SCHENECTADY — The Daily Gazette has three new members of its board of directors.
Betsie Hume Lind, chairwoman of the board, said Greg Pfluger, Marcia Steiner and Lucy Talley replace retiring board members Michelle Rea and Mary Elworth.
Of the three, Pfluger has the least connection to newspapers but also the earliest.
He’s been a technological innovator for much of his adult life, working in the insurance industry for decades now, but his first job title was paperboy.
“I was a newspaper carrier back in the days when they did hire 10- and 12-year-old kids,” Pfluger said. He would read the news bit by bit as he was folding his newspapers and developed a love for the medium.
“The newspaper industry is one I’m very passionate about,” he said.
He’s very aware of the digital challenges facing print journalism, even as he presses the same technology to benefit American Family Insurance, where he’s vice president of business systems transformation.
He previously has done technology consulting for newspapers, though not on an extensive scale, and hopes to bring benefit to The Gazette in this way.
As a news junkie and fan of the importance of a newspaper to the community, he’s hoping to offer The Daily Gazette some tech perspective and innovative thinking.
Pfluger lives in Madison, Wisconsin, as does his longtime friend Rosanne Cheeseman, another recent addition to The Daily Gazette’s board. Cheeseman was the connection that led him to be invited to serve on the board.
Pfluger isn’t familiar with Schenectady but expects to learn more during his visits for board meetings. In his description, the Madison region is very similar to New York’s Capital Region: A center of academia, government, biotechnology and tech companies, with a sprinkling of older institutions and a signature export: Bicycles.
Steiner is a Niskayuna resident and Niagara Falls native who switched majors from journalism to education then promptly went into newspapers upon graduation from college.
“I love print, I love news,” she said. “My first job was with Gannett at the Niagara Falls Gazette.” She later worked for the Buffalo News, but again in Niagara Falls, at the Buffalo paper’s bureau.
It was in Niagara Falls that she connected with the president of the city’s chamber of commerce, Charles Steiner. It was the second marriage for both, and gave them a blended family of five children. In 2002, Chuck Steiner took the helm of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce. The couple relocated and Marcia Steiner was introduced to the area she now considers home.
“I love Schenectady,” she said. “It’s a wonderful community. We all work together to make it special.”
Steiner lost her husband in 2017. Her full-time job now is vice president and executive director of the Foundation for Ellis Medicine, the fundraising arm of Schenectady County’s only general-service hospital.
“We are so fortunate we have such strong philanthropic support,” she said. “I get to be in the community a lot. I’m a firm believer that we all work together to build the community.”
One important part of the community, she said, is its 124-year-old newspaper, The Daily Gazette. She hopes to support the paper and its mission by serving on its board.
“I think The Gazette plays a very important role not only in Schenectady but in the surrounding community,” Steiner said.
Talley also went into newspapers right out of college, but she never left. She has been working for or running newspapers for 40 years now, primarily on the marketing and advertising side. Most of that time has been well out of the upstate New York snowbelt — Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina — though there was also a stint in Michigan.
Talley is now a regional vice president of Gatehouse Media’s South Atlantic Publishing Group, overseeing 20 business units in five states and serving as publisher of two newspapers near her North Carolina home.
She met Daily Gazette Publisher John DeAugustine several years ago, when both worked for Hearst, which led to her introduction to Lind, and her invitation to sit on the board.
“It’s new to me,” she said of upstate New York, “but in talking to Betsie and talking to John, it’s always good to hear other opinions, hear what other people are doing. I hope that I’m a resource for John, for Betsie, for others, about things we’ve done.”
In her travels, the West Virginia native has seen similar challenges across dissimilar demographic regions, and she believes the way to save traditional journalism is to ensure that it understands, reflects and connects with the community it serves.
That’s not as easy to do as it is to say, she added, noting the industry’s struggles since the advent of digital media.
“This business is not for the faint of heart,” Talley said.
“We’re community news,” she said. “We got to figure out a way to connect with our audiences. “We’ve got to make it personal — it has to be a personal experience.
“That’s what we all expect.”