LIMA — The new leader at The Lima News said his goal is to help the newspaper “reconnect with the community.”
“This is my passion,” said Todd Benz, the new general manager of The Lima News. “I love this industry. I think that there’s a lot of life left in it yet, obviously in digital but also in print too. While certainly the landscape has changed from what it used to be, I think the death of print has been a little over-exaggerated and a little early. If you do it right, there’s still an audience there for it.”
Rick Starks, president and chief operating officer of AIM Media Management LLC, introduced Benz to the staff of The Lima News on Monday morning. Benz will officially start in the role Oct. 25 but visited the building Monday.
He replaces Kirk Dougal, the publisher of the newspaper and a regional vice president for AIM Media Midwest since June 2019. Dougal’s final day with the company was Friday.
Benz said his first priority is reconnecting the newspaper with the community. He hopes readers notice more investment in the community.
“I think they’re going to see it in multiple ways,” he said. “One is just being involved in the community and hearing the name. … You’re seeing people who are actually working at the paper out and about and being involved, whether it’s in the civic groups, the chamber of commerce, with tourism and Rotary, downtown associations, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, everything. There are so many things out there that we can lend a hand to. Sometimes it might be monetary; sometimes it might be people; sometimes it might be resources, whether that’s in print or online.”
Benz currently works as regional audience development director for Adams Publishing Group, based in Janesville, Wis., and serving 15 newspapers. He previously worked as a group publisher for Gannett and GateHouse Media in North Carolina. He previously worked in California and South Carolina.
His first job in newspapers was as a delivery boy for the Milwaukee Sentinel when he was 12, instilling a lifelong passion for newspapers. Benz spent most of his career working in the circulation area of newspapers, although he’s also led sales teams, which will be one of his responsibilities in Lima.
He said he remains bullish on newspapers and the future of The Lima News.
“There’s still lots of potential to grow our audience and grow our overall reach, just in a different way than we had in the past,” Benz said.