Zach Ahrens

Advertising Director, The Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks, ND

[ND-E 0301]

I think, for me, the eye-opener was in Iowa.

Iowa was a big political state, and it still is, right? And here I was the publisher of two tiny little newspapers, you know, together, combined, a circulation of maybe 4000 -- little weeklies -- and the fact we would have - and I can’t remember even some of these names … obviously some of them didn’t make it - presidential hopefuls who were among those who threw their hat in the ring, would stop by and court such a little newspaper.

And it reminded me at that point, you know, that we do have the audience we do have the credibility and although were small, you know, the written word is powerful. And we can influence. And how many people would come … to this small property that we had, to try to get our support on different issues -, that’s huge.

And, of course, any time -- from a more lighthearted [perspective] -- if you’re helping answer the phones or hearing stories from our customer service people, if people don’t get their newspaper -- their world is shot.

It just reminds you of the credibility of the product we have. It’s going to last. You know, one of the things people had asked me … my family… our family …is back in Iowa… 500 miles to the south… And they said, “Do you really want to move up there? I hear newspapers are dying.”; And I said, “I wouldn’t have invested in newspapers… I wouldn’t have invested in this company… If I thought that was true.”

And it goes back to the fact that it’s still growing. We’ve repurposed ourselves. But any time another industry re-purposes itself and disseminates its information in a new way; they call it innovative. In the newspaper, they think it’s survival.

In fact, we’re making very good money in print and were making very good money in online. So, I guess I think of it as my stocks have split more, and I’ve got two piles of chips that are going up.

And it’s been a very, very positive thing. And it’s fun to prove people wrong when they see the results.