Home, sweet home: Publisher excited to lead The Union | TheUnion.com

Home, sweet home: Publisher excited to lead The Union

Dave Schmall
The Union publisher

I lived in Reno, Nev., for three months, 25 days, 13 hours and 27 minutes before my boss told me he was going to “run my brain through an eggbeater.”

He then proceeded to offer me the publisher position at The Union. I certainly welcomed the opportunity, but having just been hired in February and moved from Northern California to Reno, I was caught a little by surprise; albeit, a good one.

I was excited at the idea of coming back to California, even though I had such a short stint in Reno. I liked Reno. I liked being a California tax refugee. But I was more excited about the opportunity to work for The Union and move to the Sierra Nevada region and, in particular, Grass Valley.

The thought of relocating yet again (not so exciting) gave me anxiety, heartburn and kept me up all night wondering how I was going to break this to my wife.

Jenn and I have spent some time in Grass Valley, so we knew we liked the area. For the past two years, we drove up the hill from Yuba City to Grass Valley every Sunday for church. Well, almost every Sunday. We fell in love with the community, its distinct culture and the people we met. So it’s with much excitement and a small dose of moving angst that we look forward to settling into our new community.

I’ve been in the news media business more than 25 years and a publisher for the past 14 for various publications in Marysville, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis and Sacramento. So this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve moved more than I like to admit, but I’ve lived in some fantastic places and met some great people.

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But this feels more like home.

My predecessor, who led The Union for the past 10 years, was both editor and publisher and I admire him for his talent. I’m not a writer by trade, so I’ll leave that to those who have studied and practice journalism for a living. The Union’s own Brian Hamilton has been promoted to managing editor and will handle the daily operations of our newsroom. Congratulations to Brian.

I won’t be writing regularly, which will leave me with more time to disrupt the status quo, which is by my definition a key sign of a good leader. In addition to my publisher role, I’m also general manager of digital media operations for Swift Communications, The Union’s parent company, at its Truckee and Lake Tahoe properties.

People can confuse the editor and publisher roles at a newspaper, and they often ask me the difference. The way I describe it is, if you have a complaint, you send a Letter to the Editor. There are no Letters to the Publisher – unless they’re rave reviews. That’s by design.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be moving to a great place and inheriting a media company with a great staff of hardworking folks who truly care about their company and their community. The newspaper remains our core product, and its 148-year-old brand provides a trust, an endurance and a reflection of who we are and what we strive to be as a community.

We will continue to strive to be the best local news and information provider, regardless of whether you want relevant content delivered to your porch, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

We will continue to be proactive within our community by partnering with business and service organizations, participating in local events and providing responsible stewardship.

We will continue to be a voice, providing you with a diversity of opinions and, ultimately, letting you decide where you stand.

Most importantly, we will continue to be your community newspaper, and we will continue to care.

To grow as a media company, we need to innovate and try new things out of necessity. Like so many businesses today, the digital age has disrupted traditional content and revenue models and we must adapt to compete. The Internet provides an over-abundance of news and information from a huge number of sources, credible and not, which makes the role of the local newspaper even more important. Local journalists dig deeper to find out what’s really going on in their communities and inform their readers.

All in all, I think you’ll find the leadership change at The Union to be fairly seamless. I look forward to leading this organization, keeping it financially healthy and steering its course in the community in new and exciting ways. Jenn and I look forward to becoming part of the community, getting dialed in and meeting new people.

Thanks to Jeff for leaving a house in good order. Here’s to the next 10 years!

Dave Schmall is publisher of The Union. Contact him via email at dschmall@theunion.com or by phone at (530) 477-4299.

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