Caught My Eye, Crossed My Mind

Forrest mug (2)CROSSED MY MIND … I had the privilege of recently hearing several State Troopers share their job descriptions and experiences. I do not think we say it enough, thank you to the men and women protecting and serving through the various police agencies!

CROSSED MY MIND … As we prepare for the Easter Weekend, may we reflect upon the great miracle instead of just chocolate bunnies and hidden Chinese produced plastic eggs scattered around muddy yards. Some say it is politically incorrect to say Easter is about the resurrection of Christ, I won’t apologize for proclaiming my faith publically and believing the “story” is true. Praise God, the tomb is empty, He has risen! May believers and non-believers alike, spend at least a little time in thought on the story of the empty tomb.
On that note, who do you know that may be alone this weekend? Could we invite a widowed neighbor to dinner? Lots of folks could use a warm meal and warmer fellowship. They will remember the gesture the rest of their lives and I bet you will too! Most that serve others end up more rewarded through their service experience than those being served. Over the past decade or so, I have heard this countless times in church and within community service based organizations.

CAUGHT MY EYE … I was able to watch a replay of Tom Brokaw coverage of the Berlin wall coming down last week, what a remarkable time in history. The reflection certainly stirred up a lot of emotions and seemed to be pure (unbiased) news reporting – rare these days. Do you have memories from this remarkable time in world history?

CAUGHT MY EYE: Fulton County unemployment rises from 7.6% in December to 10.5% in January. Williams County increased from 6.8% to 8.8%. Your thoughts on what is causing the increase? Let us know on our facebook newspaper timelines – this subject has posts started already at www.facebook.com/villagereporter and www.facebook.com/wauseonreporter. You may need to scroll down a bit to find it since they were started last week.

CROSSED MY MIND … I only have a few outlets to burn off stress in my life. I love to fish (typically not on the ice) and I like to grill/smoke meat. A few weeks back when I came home to find the recent snow/wind storm ripped the front off my two year old smoker, I about came unglued (our grill is also in bad shape from such heavy use). No fishing until May and now no smoking of meats, = not good!

We ended up purchasing a new Charbroil Grill from Ace Hardware in Wauseon. (Please note there are several great businesses in our coverage areas offering grill sales currently – remember to support local business owners.)

I thought this grill was a downgrade from my prior grill due to a smaller grilling area and less burners, a tough decision as the hardware has a large selection and I could have gotten myself in deep trouble on a larger pimped out model. After my first use, I am Happy – Happy – Happy again! The newer grate design and Infrared technology is wonderful. Thank you to the great staff at Ace for assisting me in the process and allowing an opportunity to burn off extra stress again.

CROSSED MY MIND … I’m grumpy. Ya, big surprise for those that know me. I also try to be transparent; I try to be the same person on Saturday night as I am Sunday morning at church. So here goes a random venting session…

We have offered photo reprints for our newspapers since around 2003. We have invested a tremendous amount of monies on camera gear for a company of our size, to obtain high quality sports shots that are not blurry and come from sideline angles. We also spent a large sum of money to allow folks the option of ordering their own copies of print photos on our websites – from the comforts of home. I have always enjoyed providing these galleries to the community for free viewing and I thought this investment would be well worth the financial contributions made since folks typically ordered photos in large volume, allowing us to re-coop these expenses.

However the last few years, especially the past 12 months, we had very little financial support in this area. While we have were experiencing an all-time high volume of visitors viewing the photos, support dropped massively recently. Long story short, we found that we were spending around $10 for every $1 of reprint support being returned. Our expenses included staying at events longer to obtain extra photos, editing photos, uploading photos, promoting photos, buying website space, etc.

So we reviewed “why” we were experiencing the lack of reprint support? When we compared our prices to other newspapers we did not find a cheaper newspaper resale price, as a matter of fact we were largely cheaper than many regional papers (we were between .99 cents – $1.99 per reprint while other papers were charging $5 – $30 per 4×6 photo). So we knew it wasn’t the price. The next question was whether our quality was less than our competition? In our opinion, absolutely not, our photo quality was far above many of our competitors / equal to a handful of others. Did we market properly? I believe we heavily marketed each photo album published via a large array of promotions.

So why lack of support? Economy? More folks taking their own photos from the stands since high quality camera gear has come down in price and more fans are bringing their own gear? I’m sure these factors have had some effect. But long story short, we still haven’t obtained a clear overall determination of why the business venture flopped after years of success?

So despite loving providing photos for our communities to enjoy (we only publish a small percentage of photos we take – often less than 1%), we had to cut the program at the end of the Fall Sports Season 2012. Despite communicating these issues in our papers, via email campaigns and directly on the galleries themselves, there was no improvement in support, so the cuts were forced. If a local fast food joint had $1 into every sandwich they sold but could only get a dime out of its customer base, the decision to cut the option would be made quickly.

Results received from this tough decision? Two emails from parents telling me I ruined their senior’s high school careers because we were not going to provide basketball photo options for them, along with a ton of disappointed emails received (though most people were very kind and understanding once we explained why we had to cut the popular features).

Now I gave up drinking to solve my problems (another column for another time) in 1997, but talk about a slap in the face and an immediate returned desire for a strong drink (I passed on the temptation). I love our communities, will do just about anything for them. I understand that our kids only experience high school once … but to blame me for destroying their children’s high school careers because we lost thousands of dollars every sports season trying to provide this service … a little uncalled for?!! I tend to think so. (Note) – this is where I turned the other cheek … (Note II) – I have a tendency to run out of cheeks … (Note III) – these parents never placed a photo order during their students Freshmen, Sophomore or Junior years and in at least one instance, we had over 100 photos of their children available for $.99 each (reminder other newspaper charge $5 – $30 per photo).

So, now that I have this built up frustration out of my system (writing this column is cheaper than seeing my shrink) … does the community have a suggestion on how we can bring this service back at either a wash or heaven forbid an “evil” profit for our time and energies? If so, I would love to hear from you at either publisher@thevillagereporter.com or publisher@wauseonreporter.com.

For those of you who DID support our efforts in the past, I truly thank you! There is nothing professionally more frustrating for me than to have to cut local coverage due to lack of returned support. I am currently working on a possible new option in this area that we will reveal in the near future if we decide to pull the trigger, but we honestly would love to brain storm with our readers on this subject.

CROSSED MY MIND … While our political leaders filled out their brackets and made them very public, how many days/weeks/months/years without a presented and passed budget? Let’s keep putting these guys in office!?! Plenty of time for months off for vacation and tinkering around with brackets while we borrow 40 cents for every $1 spent?!? I think Washington needs to take notes from local school board, city/village council meetings (some states) … more cannot go out than comes in – even when unpopular but long term wise decisions are made!

CAUGHT MY EYE: My favorite time of the sports year, March Madness! As I polish this column off about five days before it prints, congrats to Harvard for the biggest upset thus far in the tournament. Oh ya, did I hear one of the announcers say the Harvard basketball program was under academic investigation a few years back. What, Harvard?!?

CROSSED MY MIND … As always, if you have a local news suggestion, please drop an email my way, we want to hear from you! I may be reached at either publisher@thevillagereporter.com or publisher@wauseonreporter.com.

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