By Paul Keane
WAYNESBORO — Man, 27 months can go by quickly, with plenty of things changing in the process.
Twenty-seven months ago, I wasn’t a grandfather. This past Mother’s Day weekend, our grandson turned 2.
Twenty-seven months ago, I was still in my rookie year of full-fledged newspaper ownership. Now, I have enough battle scars, bumps and bruises to take on the appearance of a life-long owner.
Twenty-seven months ago, I received the call from MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce that then-current MPA President Don Norman had announced his retirement from the newspaper business. That meant I was being elevated to MPA President roughly 15 months earlier than we had expected. To say it’s been an interesting 27 months would be a gross understatement.
We’ve weathered numerous storms over the past 27 months. We’ve fought off a newsprint tariff that would have been devastating to our industry. We’ve fought back legislation to alter where public notices are being published, successfully keeping them where they belong in printed newspapers.
Internally, MPA and MPS has weathered storms involving revenue and expenses. Thanks to the leadership of Layne and his staff, we’ve diversified and branched out into other areas that have created other revenue streams that we hope will continue to grow and keep MPA and MPS viable for years to come.
We’ve suffered tragic losses such as the unexpected death of Lisa McNeese. We’ve seen newspaper people we’ve long been friends with either retire, quit or simply be “downsized.” We’ve all continued to battle against social media while trying to keep the doors open at our locations.
When I say “we,” I mean the in the collective sense. This is not something where I am beating my chest and saying, “Look at what I’ve done.” Instead, it’s to praise the efforts of all our members — large and small — because it takes a team to make an association such as this one work.
It takes all of us banding together and making decisions that will better not only MPA and MPS, but the industry as a whole. Much like each individual member, MPA and MPS has had to diversify, adapt, adjust and do different things that will benefit the Association and its members. Were all of those decisions popular? Not by a long shot, as there was lively debate among Board members on many topics, with the majority vote making the decision.
That’s how things should work — everyone expresses their opinion, debate takes place and then a vote is conducted. Some of the decisions were tough ones and were unpopular, but they were ones that had to be made. And they were made with the best intentions of MPA and its members at heart.
It’s been one heck of a ride over the past 27 months. I can’t even begin to express what an honor and privilege it has been to follow in the footsteps of many, many great Past Presidents of this Association. I have just been humbled to have served as your President.
I also would be remiss without taking a chance to thank Layne and his staff — Monica Gilmer, Andrea Ross and Sue Hicks. All four of them do some incredible work — much of it unseen by the general membership. Without those four, MPA and MPS would be no where near the Association that it is right now. They’ve all taken on extra duties and shouldered greater responsibility just to help this Association.
My term as President ends the weekend of June 20-22 at the Summer Convention in Biloxi. I invite all of you to be sure and attend, as it promises to be a fun and very informative event. It’s something you don’t want to miss.
MPA-MPS President Paul Keane is publisher of The Wayne County News in Waynesboro.