By Steve Weddle
VPA/VPS Board President
As we move into 2019, it’s helpful to take a look back at what we’ve done recently. Thefall was a busy time for the Virginia Press Association. In September, our contest committee met to discuss a number of changes and clarifications for our next contest. Those changes include circulation groups and the handling of online categories, so be sure to pay attention as you’re entering the contest.
We also worked on professional development plans for the VPA, discussing how to build on the success of our 2018 annual conference in Short Pump. On the public access front, we’ve been working with Aimee Perron Seibert and Mark Hickman, our lobbyists with Commonwealth Strategy Group, to meet with legislators on Senate and House General Laws committees to discuss public notice legislation and issues. A number of our publishers have met with their local state representatives in anticipation of the upcoming General Assembly. Keep your eyes open for updates from VPA staff.
As we begin the new year, I suspect we’re all pivoting away from our emphasis on video. A few years ago, social media promised us all a score of views and interaction, and we jumped. Look at those metrics they showed us. They were amazing. Unbelievable. And, as it turns out, they were unbelievable. Media companies spent a couple of years revamping departments to provide video and posts to social media, waiting for the promised traffic and subsequent revenue. And we’re still waiting. In the last year or so, most of us learned to refocus on our own brands, our own products on our own sites and in our own pages.
“We’re here to connect with our communities, to provide sports updates and in-depth reporting and detailed statistics… When you want to know about the new veterinarian in town or how much of your tax money the county is spending on animal control or which church is hosting the blessing of the animals, that’s where we come in. And we’re here to stay.”
At the annual VPA conference this past spring, a packed room heard the Virginian Pilot staff discuss their award-winning podcast. Many of the Virginia papers that were not producing podcasts started as soon as they hit the parking lot. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, for example, has been providing news and analysis via podcast for quite a while, as has the Daily Press and many other papers, including our smaller weeklies.I hope we can continue to focus on our own news, on our own products and stop looking to Silicon Valley for ideas. Whether we’re providing news through print, podcasts, apps, or videos on our own websites, we’re providing the news. We’re not here to provide content for social media companies.
We’re here to connect with our communities, to provide sports updates and in-depth reporting and detailed statistics and more. Social media is wonderful if you want to watch a cat play the piano poorly. When you want to know about the new veterinarian in town or how much of your tax money the county is spending on animal control or which church is hosting the blessing of the animals, that’s where we come in. And we’re here to stay.