Thursday, January 10, 2013

Haezebroeck joins GateHouse Southern Illinois as group publisher

Kevin Haezebroeck was been named group publisher of the West Frankfort Market Group for GateHouse Southern Illinois, as well as regional director of retail and digital advertising, effective this week. As group publisher he will oversee the Daily Republican in Marion, Daily American in West Frankfort, Benton Evening News and the Du Quoin Evening Call. 

Haezebroeck has a wealth of experience in the newspaper industry, most recently with the Journal Register Company as a senior publisher, corporate senior vp of sales and regional vice president of sales. He has also been publisher of  daily newspapers in Michigan, Ohio and New York, and advertising director of Indiana, South Dakota, Oregon and Illinois newspapers. 

He has a bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Ambrose College in Iowa. 

In his group publisher role, Haezebroeck replaces me. I will remain with GateHouse Southern Illinois in his role as regional publisher.

I've had the pleasure to work with Kevin in a previous assignment and he is talented and dedicated. Our industry is in transition and Kevin has the right combination of digital media, advertising sales and leadership expertise to help lead the transformation of our organization.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Record number of GateHouse newspapers receive company's Inner Circle Award

GateHouse Media has awarded nine Southern Illinois newspapers with the company's prestigious Inner Circle Awards for Q2:
  • Benton Evening News
  • Carmi Times
  • Olney Daily Mail
  • Du Quoin Evening Call
  • Daily Republican (Marion)
  • Murphysboro American
  • Randolph County Herald Tribune
  • The Daily American (West Frankfort)
  • The Daily Register (Harrisburg)
Inner Circle evaluations focus on prints initiatives such as reader involvement, print and online promotions and alternative story formats; and online initiatives, such as Facebook, website updates, galleries, video and community blogging. This is the most S.I. newspapers that have received this award in a quarter. 

Congrats to all the winning newsrooms.   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Follow Southern Illinois sports coverage on Twitter

Journalists at GateHouse Media newspapers in Southern Illinois are making it easier to follow local sports action on Twitter. A hashtag - #SILscores - is now commonly used to identify tweets related to our coverage of high school, college and recreational sports. In some instances game coverage is in real time.

The hashtag symbol followed by a word or phrase (uninterrupted by spaces) makes it easier to follow a topic in Twitter search.

Readers of our print and digital products are also encouraged to use #SILscores to report developments in area contests they attend as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Setting the record straight on Benton, Marion, West Frankfort sports coverage

Our three newspapers in Williamson and Franklin counties - the Daily American (West Frankfort), the Daily Republican (Marion) and the Benton Evening News - made a small change in how we went to press in early August that has been the subject of concern by a few people in one of those communities.

Here is what we did, why we did it and why those community newspapers (and their readers) are now much better off for the change.

We combined just the "B" section of all three papers on Aug. 6; it now has primarily a sports and classified focus. (See related story.) The perception from some observers has been that in order to do so, we must have cut back on sports coverage from their community as a result. That is simply not the reality:
  • We freed journalist time to spend more time writing. Previously each sports editor at each paper spent roughly 35-50% of their week "paginating" the sports section. This is the process where the pages are composed using a computer design program and then transmitted to a printer. So in any given week we lost up to a collective 50 hours or more of time between the three newspapers to a production process that could be spent reporting. Under the new system, we moved pagination of the sports section to another individual in the newsroom, freeing all three journalists to write more. 
  • We devoted more space to sports journalism. In the past, some days we published as few as two pages of sports coverage; we now have up to four or even five pages. That is a larger sports section that at some newspapers 10 times the circulation of ours. 
  • We increased the audience for our classified advertisers. Now every advertiser in that section has a larger audience. As a result, we have seen the number of participants in our business services directory grow.
  • Our expanded coverage increased the value of the sports section for some of our readers. Many readers have nieces, nephews, grandchildren and children of friends playing sports at neighboring schools. Some are alumni of those schools. They have told us they appreciate the ability to follow those athletes from nearby towns in our newspapers. Others have told us that following the coverage of schools who their local teams may play is helpful in familiarizing themselves with the competition. 
  • And we saved some money to plow elsewhere in our operation. There were cost savings because our printer only had to create press plates for one section instead of three. The annual savings equates to the salary equivalent of an entry level staff member. 
Is the coverage everything we want it to be? No. The change was hampered by a staff resignation; there was a brief period of time we were not at full staff. The Southern Illinois Miners - fortunately - made it to the championship round of the playoffs for the first time, which took a little bit away from the coverage of scholastic sports. So we haven't hit our stride yet and the best is yet to come. 

To summarize: 
  • We still have the same size sports staff in place. 
  • At a minimum we are still covering the same athletic teams we have in the past. 
  • Some days our coverage of your favorite teams is greater than before. 
  • And we've layered in some additional coverage into your edition - stories that would have been still been written and published in a different newspaper if this combined sports section did not exist - that inform local student athletes and their fans about near-by competitors and engage readers who grew up in and / or know individuals in those communities. 
If you have sports story ideas in these communities you feel deserve coverage, please contact a local sports editor:
  • Allen Parker, Benton Evening News, 
  • Ryan Stieg, Daily American,
  • Justin Walker, Daily Republican,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Take our brief newspaper survey

This is a link to a brief 5-question survey to register Southern Illinois newspaper readers' interests. Tell us your opinions:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sales leader opening at GateHouse Southern Illinois

We're recruiting a sales leader for SI Trader, a shopper circulating in five states in the Midwest, as well as to lead a automotive sales team for a group of dailies, weeklies and shoppers. The successful candidate will manage a mix of inside and outside salespeople and have revenue responsibility for a highly successful paid circulation shopper product, as well as a multi-media automotive sales team selling across more than a dozen traditional print and multi-media products.
We seek a leader who can define strategic direction while actively engaging all members of the sales team in achieving goals across retail, classified, digital and niche product offerings.
Our successful candidate will have a stellar track record in identifying and executing innovative sales ideas, effectively managing performance, mentoring and motivating employees and understanding and meeting customers' needs. This is a hands-on role, that will require commitment to regularly participating in sales calls, evaluating / mentoring account executives and overseeing development of sales proposals within the team.
This position is Southern Illinois-based within GateHouse Media; this is a high profile position with considerable opportunity for advancement for a successful individual.
We offer an attractive compensation package and full benefits.

The successful candidate will have a proven track record of sales management for a minimum of three years in media, preferable in shopper and / or automobile advertising sales. Requirements include a history of driving sales results, recruiting and nurturing talent, and building and engaging a highly productive and motivated team. Strong customer orientation, exceptional written/verbal communication & presentation skills, persuasiveness, teamwork, problem solving skills, analytical ability, and interpersonal skills also essential. Digital sales mgt. experience highly preferred. A background in consumer marketing of paid shopper products would also be very helpful.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a cover letter and resume to

Monday, August 6, 2012

Changes coming to classified section of Marion, West Frankfort and Benton newspapers

Beginning today, readers of the Benton Evening News, The Daily American (West Frankfort) and The Daily Republican (Marion) will note the classified section has moved to the front of the second section of the newspaper. This is one of a number of improvements coming this summer / fall to this section.

Also effective today, any ad called into any of those three newspapers will appear in all three, as well as the Web sites affiliated with each newspaper. The contents will also appear in two weeklies - The Progress (Christopher) and Free Press (West Frankfort) - and will be expanded to the weekly This Week (Marion) by year-end.

The goal is to offer classified advertisers a greater reach of local adults. Advertisers can also purchase additional reach into other regional newspapers such as Harrisburg.

In conjunction with this change, readers should notice a higher local story count in the sports section. The goal is to provide readers more coverage from Williamson and Franklin counties. In the past, sports articles that appeared in one of the three newspapers often wouldn't make it into one or both of the other two. Now local sports originating from those two counties will appear in all three editions.

More changes to the classified section will be announced in the coming weeks.