Tribune Publisher Kelly Miller speaks to Journalism 101 students at Church McKee on September 17, 2017. Photo by Aaron Smith
“Journalism will always be around. Whether it’s digitally or in print, books or magazines. Somebody always has to write it,” Kelly Miller, publisher of the Mineral Daily News-Tribune, told Journalism 101 students at Potomac State College.
Miller noted that the newspaper business may be shrinking, but society’s desire to consume news is staying steady. Students heard an in-depth and first-hand description of how newspapers are changing and embracing technology.
“As the digital age grows, there will be more opportunities for journalists.”
“Now we can blog and have different ways to get our message out to people,” stressed Miller.
Making traditional print journalism viable is a struggle papers across the country are experiencing as more people go online for their news. Small town papers like the Tribune have had to adapt.
Miller has made many changes with the local paper in an effort to keep it cost-effective. The paper now runs four times a week (down from six), and the paper is printed off-site instead of locally.
Miller’s changes are working. She noted that when she arrived at the Tribune, it had been several years in the red, but it now has a much better financial future. Miller knows that a lot of the local paper’s success is thanks to hyper-local journalism – the coverage of events on an extremely small geographical scale.
“Big city newspapers are struggling,” Miller said. “They don’t focus on local news. There’s a lot to cover in Chicago, for example. That hyper-local news is what keeps us viable.”
She stressed the importance of these small-town stories and the fact that it sells papers, often for readers to cut out their family member’s pictures who are featured in the articles. “We call it refrigerator journalism.”
Miller discussed the many challenges she has faced in her journalism career. One such challenge was the presence of women working in management roles in the publishing industry.
“There weren’t a lot of women when I started in the business. When I went to my first publishers’ convention, there were two women. A year later, there were ten of us. I think that company is 50% women now.”
As journalism grows and expands to include more diversity and digital mediums, Miller believes life is left in the newspaper business.
Her optimism was inspiring to journalism major Gabby Colerick. “I learned a lot about how the business works,” she said. “You can tell Ms. Miller is a high achiever, especially as a woman in that field. It was very motivating.”