Community newspapers still best place for retail advertising: David Black

As the newspaper industry continues to suffer, David Black, president and CEO of Black Press, is optimistic and keeping his eye out for more buying opportunities, a recent Globe and Mail feature on the Victoria-based media man concludes.

But, as the Globe‘s David Ebner points out, “The 63-year-old isn’t so much a newspaper man as a businessman running newspapers. Making money is the challenge he relishes, and he continues to make it when many others in the industry are failing.”

In March, Black (as an individual, not through Black Press) teamed up with U.S. private equity firm Platinum Equity to buy the struggling San Diego Union-Tribune.

Ebner continues:

“He believes in an old-fashioned recipe, that a local paper has a
unique role for advertisers, especially the likes of furniture stores
and auto dealerships. There is still value in a full-page ad, even for
beaten-down city papers. When the economy comes back, papers will get
back on their feet too, the idea goes.

“Mr. Black and Platinum don’t have dreams of editorial expansion. Mr.
Black’s papers are mostly of the decidedly no-frill variety, and, in
one example, there are no plans to resurrect the Union-Tribune‘s
Washington bureau, which was shuttered last year. ‘In a perfect world,
you have bureaus in several places but that perfect world isn’t going
to happen, I don’t believe, where you have money to burn in editorial,’ Mr. Black said in an interview.”

Black added:

“”The Internet no doubt has had an effect, and will have an effect, for
community papers, but I don’t think it’s an enormous effect,’ Mr. Black
said. ‘Community newspapers are still the best place for retailers to
advertise. They get the most response for their dollars.

“‘For the big metros, it’s different. They were living off their classifieds. They have to reinvent themselves.'”