Drive it like you stole it | Publisher’s Desk

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eric and I am the new Regional Publisher of Sound Publishing’s Eastside Media Group.

I usually go by just Eric and tend to skip the last name for two reasons. First, my last name is hard to spell. Often times the letter “F” is replaced with an “S” resulting in Lasontaine. Second, I’ve been working on the Cher/Bono single-name-thing for 43 years and feel like it’s finally starting to catch on.

To understand me is to know me. Or vice versa, depending on your reading style or affiliation as a Jedi. My first job as a newspaperman was publisher/editor/sales for a small, family-owned weekly newspaper in Othello. The 65-year-old community newspaper was struggling with the recent entry of a competitor. The city of 7,000 residents was not financially capable of supporting two newspapers.

I was fresh off the boat with an MBA, student loans and a snorkel in case I took on water.

The competitor had established a brilliant business model. Their circulation was three times larger, mailed to every resident a day before mine and essentially looked, read and felt like the same newspaper. I was essentially handed the keys to a rundown 1967 Shelby Mustang and asked to race — and eventually beat — a brand new 2007 model. Thankfully, ownership (a Medina resident), believed, supported and gave me the freedom to drive the paper like a young Nicolas Cage minus the bad haircut (full disclosure — I too, have had bad haircuts, just not at the time).

I began throwing every type of pasta (i.e. idea) at the wall and eventually found a groove. It was all about engagement and relevancy with our audience. By 2010, we crossed the finish line ahead of our competitor and took a four-year victory lap as the only newspaper in town.

In 2014, I took my talents to the daily world of newspaper publishing in central Washington state. The speed of a daily newspaper was lightning fast and fit my brain perfectly. I moved very quickly in the digital space, which has now brought me here to your community.

Since I’m already over on my word count, I’ll leave you with an open invitation to either continue engaging, re-engage or engage with your weekly community newspaper. There is no one telling the story of your community as well as we do. As we move forward, we hope our path together as reader and newspaper continue to strengthen and our offline engagement continues to drive our online engagement. Keep reading, keep engaging and remember to buckle up.