LIMA — The business is more than 125 years old, but The Lima News’ business model is a whole new frontier.The past two years have seen some of the biggest changes in the newspaper industry’s long history. The rise of new media platforms, the decline in almost all retail markets brought on by the recession and a nation-wide struggle to keep print media relevant all made life hard for newspaper publisher. Those struggles came home for The Lima News in 2009 when its parent company, Freedom Communications, filed for bankruptcy protection. Coming out of that bankruptcy in March 2010 was the story of the year, at least inside the Elida Road building.“We came out of bankruptcy, we came out fairly quick and the company has lower debt and is better positioned to deal with the market as it is,” said The Lima News Publisher Jim Shine. “I think that is by far the story of 2010.”Beyond the industry challenges, the paper saw some signs of hope in the local community. The business environment, particularly automotive and retail, saw improvements over the year before. That meant those automobile dealers and retailers could afford to advertise. Still, Shine sees the real key to success for both The Lima News and the community as a whole will be an improvement in employment numbers.“We need job creation, preferably in manufacturing, but in the retail sector and across the board. We need people working so they’ll be able to go out and spend. That’s good for us and for the whole community,” Shine said. That tie to the community’s success seems to work. While papers across the nation fold or cut back on publication, The Lima News circulation numbers remain steady and it remains one of the too-few papers out there making money. Shine acknowledges that if he hopes to keep making money the paper will need to stay on top of new technologies and learn to get people the product they want in the format they want.The Lima News’ website, www.limaohio.com has been a priority, and now the paper is working on improving mobile applications.“Our goal is seamless delivery across multiple platforms,” he said.That goal adds a whole new set of challenges for an industry that spent generations with a relatively simple business model — write news stories, sell ads, put them all in a paper and sell it. The writing and ad sales still work pretty much the same, but selling it all today is more complicated than just stuffing a rolled-up paper in your box.“Monetizing it all, that’s the secret and I’m not sure anybody’s there yet. I believe we’re going to have to figure out a way to monetize with sales, either papers, website, mobile, pads, whatever,” Shine said. In the coming year, the paper will continue working with other Freedom Communications papers to develop those new platforms. They will also undertake a redesign of the website and some content changes in the print edition. “We’re not going to neglect the print side. You’ll see changes there, too,” Shine said. “We want to continue to offer the best product, whatever the platform. That’s going to keep us busy this year.”
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.