New management rises at Sun
A newspaper is the stalwart historian of its community. It serves to remind the people to celebrate its local heroes and brings to light truths that have been hidden away.
The Foothills Sun-Gazette (FSG) has a long legacy of providing reliable information to generations of the foothills area residents. Since the newspaper’s inception, there have been a number of individuals at the helm ensuring that, once a week, subscribers are updated on the local goings-on.
For the last 15 years Reggie Ellis has served as editor and later publisher/co-owner and has played a significant role in the 115-year-old publication. However, on Wednesday, Feb. 3 Ellis served as editor for the last time.
On Feb. 1, Ellis purchased Mineral King Publishing Inc. (MKP) from long-time owner Katherine Byrne, who will remain with the company as the business manager. Byrne’s decision to remain with the company will help foster a smooth transition for the communities.
“Timing is everything in life and after 22 years of community service under the guise of our local newspaper, I feel it is time to pass the torch onto somebody with such great credentials and loyalty to the community, Reggie Ellis,” Byrne said. “I am passing this honor with pride, having been part of the 115 year history of providing local news. I am proud to have mentored Mr. Ellis over the past 15 years that he has been part of this history, too.”
Ellis said, “This has been a lifelong dream for me. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of the business, and I’m looking forward to stepping away as editor in order to build more relationships within communities.” He went on to share that he believes the company’s potential is limitless, “We are going to be doing something new and different. We are creating a new model that other papers of our size will benefit from: learning how we have survived in a different financial landscape.”
In addition to Ellis’ taking over as president and publisher, former freelance writer, webmaster and more recently assistant editor, Paul Myers, has been named editor and vice president. “I’ve learned a lot from Reggie, and I have a lot more to learn. He has made a name for himself in the community. He did a great job being from Hanford and taking on The Exeter Sun, The Lindsay Gazette and now The Foothills Sun-Gazette.”
An Exeter native himself, Myers feels as if he, too, knows the community well. Myers began his career in journalism as a sports freelancer. His enthusiastic coverage of the 2014 Farmersville varsity boys soccer championship put him on the radar of Ellis. The two quickly bonded over local government; in particular, Myers’ early coverage of Woodlake City Council.
“We have a good professional relationship and friendship. We are always bouncing ideas off of each other about stories and business,” shared Myers.
Together the two will continue to improve the quality of their product, as well as ensure information is easily accessible to the public. Although more and more news outlets are converting into an online format, both Ellis and Myers understand the value of print journalism. “Every town needs newspaper coverage. What you lose without a newspaper is a melting pot of ideas, solutions and transparency. A newspaper drives the dialogue of the community,” stated Ellis.
In an effort to put local news in the hands of a younger generation, FSG will be launching a podcast series, Paper Trail. Paper Trail will aim to bridge the gap between the public and city administrators, leaders and organizers as both Myers and Sheyanne Romero create an informal dialogue with those individuals who shape our community. “There are no local podcasts [currently], so it will be nice to be able to provide that for younger people,” said Myers.
In anticipation of new leadership, MKP spent much of 2015 restructuring staff in an effort to create a cohesive and versatile team of reporters and adverting representatives. The entire staff is enthusiastic about the new layout of the newspaper, as well as launching a new series of magazines entitled Seasons.
With every significant change in valley weather, residents will be greeted by a new volume of Seasons Magazine. The lifestyles quarterly publication will feature a number of topics including: food, entertainment, agriculture and culture. The first volume of Seasons is set to publish on March 16 and will celebrate the beauty of spring throughout Tulare County.
“We’ve been successful in creating the Foothills Sun-Gazette brand because we publish once a week. And that’s what I hope Seasons will provide for us.” Myers went on to say, “We want the public to see Seasons and think, Mineral King Publishing, Inc.”
The recent redesign of MKP is due in large part to production manager Robert Perry, who joined the staff in March 2015. Perry brought with him a wealth of design knowledge, as well as a clear vision for the MKP brand. Ellis described Perry’s design as substantive, “Style with a purpose.” Myers agreed stating, “Robert makes us all look good.” He went on to say, “Our ads look great and our magazines have been taken to another level. We are so lucky to have him on our team.”
As part of the restructuring there is now a full time Exeter sales representative. “We realize most of our subscribers are from Exeter and we are headquartered in Exeter. With a full time representative and additional staff there will be more communication and better coverage,” stated Ellis.
Although there have already been a number of alterations, FSG still firmly believes in the philosophy of being the foothills’ trusted source of news for over 100 years.
“We are in the same building, we have the same phone number and our goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible, between the paper and the public,” said Ellis.