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Time and tradition: Betsie Hume Lind plans vibrant, strong Gazette

125 Years

Time and tradition: Betsie Hume Lind plans vibrant, strong Gazette

Chairwoman of the board discusses commitment to independent journalism
Time and tradition: Betsie Hume Lind plans vibrant, strong Gazette
Chairwoman Betsie Hume Lind speaks in front of the Daily Gazette building at the Image 360 Grand Opening, July 20, 2019.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer

Betsie Hume Lind has loved her journey in newspapers.

"It's a very complex, important business," said Lind, chairwoman of the board at The Daily Gazette. "We try to tell the important stories of the communities that we serve to keep residents up to date about the goings on, both the good and the challenges."

It has been a personal journey, and Lind takes the "family ownership" label very seriously. As the newspaper celebrates 125 years of covering politicians and parades, fires and floods, baseball and basketball games, Lind remains poised and prepared to keep The Gazette vibrant and moving forward.

Lind's father, David Hume, ran the business side of the Gazette for many years and served as company president from 1986 until his death in 1993. Her uncle, John E.N. Hume Jr., was the longtime editor who retired in 1980.

Lind took on greater involvement in the family business when her father died, joining the board of directors along with her brother, William S. Hume. Both Lind and Hume took on even greater responsibilities when their cousin, longtime Gazette publisher John E.N. "Jack" Hume III, retired in 2013.

Lind, who served as company president from June 2012 until 2014, especially likes watching all the parts of the newspaper operation.

"There's the fun of the daily miracle of getting the paper out and learning more about the complexity of printing presses, mail room operations -- which is not putting a stamp on a letter -- and carriers getting that paper to all our valued customers every day," Lind said.

There have been plenty of challenges in the last few years. The Gazette's former press became too expensive to operate, mostly because printing plates available only from an overseas supplier came with sky-high price tags.

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"There was no way we could stay in business if we kept using that press," Lind said.

The answer: Invest in a new press.

"We looked at the options of moving our printing off-site or buying a new press," Lind said. "We found a very good used press and we bought that for $2 million. My hand shook as I signed the paperwork."

But the move showed sure and steady confidence -- telling readers and employees that The Gazette was preparing for the future.

"That was the whole thing, showing the commitment that we're here to stay, we've been in business for 125 years and we plan to stay in business for another 125 years," Lind said. "The goal with the press purchase was to continue printing a great product while we develop more and more our online products."

Lind is respectful of both newsprint and electronic formats.

"We know there are many who love to hold the tactile version, there are many who like to read our paper online and use the e-Edition, where they see the same thing that's in the paper copy, page by page," Lind said. "So they get the full sweep of what our reporters are reporting on as well as seeing all the advertising."

People also can access the newspaper's award-winning website with computers, tablets and smartphones. "Between these three different touch points, hopefully we are giving customers valued ways of finding our content and advertising," Lind said.

The chairwoman also believes moving quickly as a business can pay dividends.

"One of our mottos is to 'stay nimble,'" Lind said, "because with nimbleness gives opportunities. We have taken the opportunity to up our game and one way we've upped our game, we now have a board.

"It started with an advisory board," Lind added. "I saw right away we needed some outside advice with this very challenging environment that was happening in the newspaper space. Our first was an advisory board with two newspaper experts and family members. Now, it's a mixture of people with all different skills and very similar to the boards of other growing companies."

There's a lot to watch over. Lind wants her family's longtime newspaper to stay true to its mission and ensure the community remains strong with journalism and advertising content. But she's also happy to find other revenue streams.

In recent months, several sections of the newspaper's headquarters on Maxon Road Extension have been re-purposed for rental opportunities. Currently, the list of tenants includes Logical Net Corp., Perfect Water, the newspaper's Image 360 graphics and signage company, R.M. Logistics Group Inc., the Edison Tech Center and Livingston Energy Group.

"We're very happy with our current tenants," Lind said. "This creates a dynamic experience in our building that we're hoping to grow on."

Lind is also happy with the current team in the newspaper's news, advertising and circulation departments -- press and mail rooms, too.

"I enjoy getting to know our staff," she said. "Hopefully, they find it an interesting place to work with a mission-driven company."

The family angle is key for Lind. She greatly appreciates the work her cousin Jack did during his stewardship of the newspaper, especially in computer innovations. Her husband Henry is The Gazette's energy and environmental steward, and has brought more efficient lighting, upgrades to the cooling and heating systems and security improvements to the Maxon Road Extension building. Brother William is actively involved in helping the company diversify its revenue streams.

And a younger generation of family members is on the way, prepared to help the Gazette prosper and tell the important stories of our communities.

Lind said that while her family owns the newspaper, many others believe The Gazette belongs to them. And that's OK.

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"When we go out to eat sometimes and get to talking to the staff at a restaurant, for instance Pinhead Susan's, and mention where we work, they say, 'It's my Gazette,'" Lind said. "We hear that quite frequently, and when we change something that they love, we hear about it.

"Our goal is to remain a strong, independent voice for the next 125 years," Lind added. "We're deeply committed to independent journalism in support of our communities."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

 

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