The Opelika-Auburn News is located at 2901 Society Hill Road, Opelika, Ala.
The Opelika-Auburn News is a 15,000 circ., daily newspaper serving the adjacent communities of Opelika and Auburn, Ala. Being a Media General newspaper gives The O-A News the benefit of corporate support, TV and radio partners, and efficiencies of scale such as centralized copyediting and customer service. (See Backgrounder)
Opelika and Auburn are so close it’s difficult to tell when you’ve passed from one into the other, but they are quite different in character. (Click on Story of the Newspaper) The Opelika-Auburn News “connects the two communities together…” says Publisher Jim Rainey. “The only thing that connects them.”
A Trusted Brand
“Based on 106 years in this community, what differentiates [The Opelika-Auburn News] is that we are a trusted brand in the community,” says Rainey. In fact, most managers participating in the “Who Needs Newspapers?” report say their newspapers’ longevity, reputation, and active participation in their communities makes them a trusted brand and gives them a competitive advantage.
“Reputation is the most important thing we have,” says Managing Editor Wayne Snow. “…it’s important for people to know there is an organization where they can go for the truth, or at least the truth as we can dig it out at that time,” says Snow. (See Enterprise Stories and J-Epiphanies)
One of Publisher Jim Rainey’s accomplishments was to supervise from conception to completion a new 40,000-square-foot multi-media complex that opened November 2007 in Opelika. Each aspect of the complex reflects traditional journalism values. Since a goal of the WNN report is to shine a light on the people who run U.S. newspapers and their guiding values, here is Rainey’s description of the complex. (See pictures of the building above.)
- When you first arrive at the building, you’ll see an abundance of glass. The windows are reflective by day, demonstrating our belief that the newspaper should offer an unflinching and true reflection of the community. However, they become transparent at night, allowing visitors to see completely through both buildings, watch our newsroom at work and our presses run. This represents our belief that there should be no cover of darkness and public institutions should be transparent.
- We have two buildings instead of one. These two buildings represent the two cities that make up our core market: Opelika and Auburn.
- The two buildings are joined in the middle breezeway by three wooden platforms, which represent the three platforms we use to connect our communities at our facility: print, broadcast and digital. The breezeway between the two buildings operates as a covered gathering place, where we often host community events such as business after hours for the chambers of commerce and student functions for our Newspapers in Education program.
- Upon entering the building, you'll find quotes printed on the walls and etched in glass that have been strategically placed throughout the building. Some of the quotes have to do with newspapers; others have to do with personal character, free speech, and specific disciplines such as newsgathering or advertising. Others represent in some way the core beliefs of the newspaper. Among the quoted sources are the First Amendment, Voltaire, Michel Eyquem Montaigne, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Arthur Miller. Quotes are our business. The ideals they express speak to us daily and serve as reminders that words can have lasting impact.
- The office building is divided by a wide walkway. On one side is news and circulation. The other side of the walkway is advertising. The two sides of the building are divided by an opening that runs the length of the building and represents the separation of the journalistic endeavor and business concerns. It reminds us that we print the news as we find it, without fear or favor and reminds all employees that there is always a strict divide between news and advertising.
- Each side of the building has its own small glass-walled conference room with its own color scheme. The newsroom's conference room is blue, representing the "true blue" of news, while the advertising conference room is green, the color of money.
- In the publisher's office, there are four unique chairs with fabric covered in words etched in gold cursive lettering on a blue background. They serve as a reminder that words are currency in our business. As long as we take good care of the words, and thus maintain a strong news product, we will be in position to have a strong business.
Coming Next in the Gulf States series: The Northeast (Tupelo) Mississippi Daily Journal, The (Houma, La.) Courier, and The Austin (Texas) Statesman.
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-- Sara Brown and Paul Steinle