An Interview With Local Newspaper Editor, Andy Probert.
We have a treat for you in this special blog. Over the course of the last year, we’ve given you some insight into media relations, branding, and marketing. Now we can delve a little deeper by speaking to a newspaper editor. We’ll talk about the role of an editor, why local media is the foundation of successful communications even for the largest companies, what an editor is looking for when submitting a story, and what an editor in a tourist resort gets up to in the winter months.
It’s our great pleasure to introduce the Editor of Voices Newspaper in Didim, Turkiye, Andy Probert.
Our first question is to ask about your history in the media industry and how you ended up as editor of an English speaking local newspaper in Turkiye?
I first set foot into a changing world in the media landscape. When typewriters were giving way to computers, the fax machine was king and mobile phones were like lumps of concrete you hauled around!
A journey that took me to the law courts and sports grounds of South Wales to a country town in Worcestershire, onward to reporting for a city’s daily newspaper for 10 years, before a key decision led to a life with my partner living alongside the Aegean Sea in Turkey.
Voices Newspaper was launched in the early Noughties by a fellow journalist and I was fortunate to be able to volunteer my help to guide it through to what it is today.
There's a common misconception on how newspapers generate income. The cover price helps, but, especially with the effect of the internet, how does a local newspaper fund itself? As an editor, where’s the sweet spot between generating income and sharing news?
Advertising is king for newspapers wherever they are located in the world, and Turkiye is no exception. With the rise of digital, the ability to take advertising from print to a website, and/or both works. The balance of income and news is a 50-50 split.
I’m sure there are some readers wondering how they can break into the industry. Do you have any advice?
When I joined, I went straight into a news agency and then trained on the job. Today, those entering the industry are likely to go to college or university on a media course and be accepted into an apprenticeship scheme. But with the rise of digital media, you can set up as a reporter off the bat. But media legal training is highly recommended to ensure you are not sunk before you sail by an expensive libel claim.
I’m old enough to remember afternoons stuffing envelopes with press releases and needing a drink to get rid of the taste of glue afterwards. The rise in the internet and technology was meant to signal the death knell of printed newspapers and magazines. How have things changed? How do you keep the balance between a printed newspaper and an online audience?
Newspapers are living a precarious life with the rise of digital and the many different platforms that engage and entertain audiences. It is an ongoing debate of how to balance printed against online. As much as printed papers may have had their day, a bit like fossil fuels, they will be around for some time yet as long as they serve the purpose of being local and community-based.
I’m a great believer in the power of local newspapers. Why do you think they’ve survived and, in many cases, thrived?
Local is the word. Proving to be a local voice for the community and ensuring they are informed about what is happening in their neighbourhood, is still enticing for people to read.
I remember one of our first conversations when I’d sent you the press release announcing the launch of my first book. The line “I thought that was too professional for someone not in the industry,” is still the greatest compliment I’ve had in my career. What is it you’re looking for when someone submits a story?
Well, a story should have a hook, something which provokes the public’s interest. Everything else will slot into place.
Why do you think so many, and I include multi-national agencies here, fail to grasp the importance of local newspapers?
I think local newspapers are an oversight for most agencies simply because of ignorance – they are not known about. Local paper’s smaller audiences may be considered too much hard work. Yet those audiences can be just as influential.
What effect do you think a local newspaper has on its community? I know, especially during the pandemic, it was a beacon giving us all vital information and preventing us from feeling alone.
A newspaper should be seen as a local’s friend. It provides insight, details, facts, and everything else people expect from a local community paper. There is no magic formula, but being connected and having a connection with local communities are not only important to newspapers, they are their lifeblood.
We live in a tourist town so the printed version of Voices only comes out for part of the year. The winter months it reverts to online and social media. Do you find people have seen the newspaper whilst here, then continue to read it online when they’ve gone home?
Yes, there appears a lot of goodwill from the ‘second-home owners’ still living abroad, or tourists wanting a connection to the place they have holidayed in. The expat community has the option of utilising it or not.
I know, from experience, how labour intensive putting together a weekly printed newspaper is. Is it easier over the winter when everything is online?
It might look easy, but you still have to have the initiative and resilience to bring news to your audience, irrespective of what season it is.
A final gratuitous plug moment. What are the links to follow Voices Newspaper?
Thank you for providing the insight you have. I’m sure there are many who will have learned a lot. Hopefully, a few will have a look at the website and see how comprehensive and informative a local newspaper can be. We should probably warn them they might come across the odd article by Maximilian Sam too!
What's Coming Up And A New Addition
We can't let that interview be the end of our discussions on media and how best to get your news out to the larger world. So, because we really are lovely some of the time, the next blog in December will be giving you some hints and tips on how to find your news hook, write a press release, and target the right publications (online and offline) to get your news the maximum exposure.
It leads me on to some exciting news. The MaxSam group has expanded. It's no longer only books and merchandise. We have added MaxSam Communications to our family. It offers a full range of communication services from media relations, to podcasts, to training in various aspects of communication. It's been built with over 25 years' experience around the world and brings together some extremely talented individuals who can help with communications advice, planning and execution. You can visit the website by clicking the logo below.
We haven't neglected the Maximilian Sam brand whilst launching MaxSam Communications. Quite the opposite. We've given a total refresh to the merchandise and added a few more designs. We'll be adding more downloads too before Christmas. To celebrate both the merchandise refresh, and my father's birthday (We won't tell you his age, but if we lit all the candles it would seriously increase global warming), we're offering a huge 30% off all merchandise for one day only on December 8. It will mean you can get all those presents in time for Christmas.
We hope you've found this blog useful. If you have any questions please leave a comment or contact us and we'll help as much as we can.
Maximilian Sam and The Stray Army
PS. Keep your eyes on our social media channels. There's a very cool interview coming out on December 1st. We'll post the links as soon as it's been published, as well as a podcast with Maximilian Sam talking all things book marketing.