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WNN - The Coeur d’Alene Press - Interviews

Jim Thompson

Publisher

Jim Thompson started his career in the printing and newspaper industry while attending junior high school in Sandpoint, Idaho where his parents owned a small offset commercial printing operation and a free 5-day daily newspaper. He worked in the printing department for the next 15 years, followed by a stint in ad sales.

In 1986, the Hagadone Corp. bought his parents’ company, consisting of 3 weeklies and a 5-day daily. Thompson was promoted to publisher of the Sandpoint Daily Bee and 2 other neighboring weeklies. In 1994, he was named publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press. In 2001, he was promoted to president of Hagadone Newspapers along with his responsibilities as publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press. In 2007, he resumed his role as publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press full time.

[ID 0101] - Part 1: Intro and Contribution (3:44)

Jim Thompson, publisher, The Coeur d’Alene Press, started at the newspaper in March 1994. Thompson says the newspaper is deeply engaged in the community. He cites hosting the annual Scripps Spelling Bee for Northern Idaho and the city’s annual “Christmas for All” fund as two examples of the newspaper’s community outreach. Thompson says, in his way of thinking, “Newspapers are run by business people but ‘owned’ by the community.”

[ID 0102] - Part 2: Strategic Changes (10:04)

Jim Thompson, publisher, The Coeur d’Alene Press, says his newspaper is now operating from a revised perspective: “We still gather the news, but we are in the information delivery business now.” In the digital age, Thompson says, “The biggest change is the constant, conscious effort we are making to integrate all those new responsibilities [managing the digital news side] into the existing foundation structure that we enjoy at the newspaper.” Thompson does not expect print newspapers to disappear: “In my lifetime I have never seen any information service go away. It changes,” says Thompson, “and of course we need to be able to change with it.” He calls the current era “the most exciting and the most opportunistic that I’ve ever enjoyed in the newspaper business.”

[ID 0103] - Part 3: Adaptation & the Future (6:16)

Jim Thompson, publisher, The Coeur d’Alene Press, says his newspaper has its own timetable for change. “I don’t want to be the leader,” says Thompson. “I want to be about two steps behind. But I don’t want to get any farther behind than that.” Thompson says his newspaper is ready to become a web-first operation, “If that fits into a business model that generates enough revenue to support it. If that’s where people prefer to get their information, we want to be ready for that – when it happens.” But Thompson expects that change will come “in stages.” And some news consumers are reluctant to change. “I image there are a lot of people who will always read their [news], in print, until it doesn’t exist.”

[ID 0104] - Part 4: Prospects & Preparation (2:16)

Jim Thompson, publisher, The Coeur d’Alene Press, says candidates for newspaper jobs should realize that the newspaper industry has changed: “the world you used to live in doesn’t exist anymore.” If you want a newspaper job “you need to embrace a lifetime of learning – an ongoing education.” “The best opportunities are for those who are hungry,” says Thompson, “and for those who charge ahead.”