Association boards approve plan to consolidate SNPA and Inland


In concurrent board meetings held Wednesday, June 5, directors of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (SNPA) and the Inland Press Association unanimously approved a plan to consolidate the two associations, effective October 1.

Details of the plan approved by the two boards will be sent to members of both associations on June 7 for their consideration and vote.  The result of the member balloting is expected to be announced on June 28.

The consolidated association is crafted to be the champion of the newspaper industry and a proactive voice that promotes the value and contributions of newspapers to the communities that they serve.

"The industry has seen a significant change in the last decade," said Doug Phares, this year's president of Inland and co-chair of the merger planning group. "There has been a migration to larger groups and an exiting of many long-term family owners. It has also seen a seismic shift in the business model and long-held practices have been upended."

Phares said that the boards of both associations saw a critical need for an industry association that "provides voice, focus and function equal to the challenges of our new reality."

PJ Browning, the current president of SNPA, said that the boards were also mindful of the culture and history that has attracted loyal and engaged members to both associations for more than 100 years.

"While we are proposing a new association with a new focus, we are also committed to preserving the networking, the camaraderie, and the idea-sharing that are hallmarks of SNPA and Inland," Browning said. 

Colorado Springs publisher Chris Reen, who co-chaired the merger planning group, outlined the member benefits of the consolidated association:

  • A new unapologetic and relentless champion for newspapers and a voice for the newspaper industry.
  • Leadership that fills a significant void in the industry.
  • Materials and training on how to educate and inform employees and communities about the indispensable value of newspapers and local journalism.
  • More resource-rich in-person events with larger pool of attendees, speakers and vendors, and expanded and improved opportunities for free digital training and idea-sharing.
  • Industry research and white papers.
  • Education and discovery on sustainable business models
  • Enhanced coordination and partnerships with j-schools and other industry organizations.

In anticipation of approval by the membership, the merger planning group has engaged an attorney to prepare legal documents and filings, a marketing/branding firm to work on naming and messaging, and a company to conduct a national search for a CEO to lead the new association.

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About Southern Newspaper Publishers Association: SNPA stands out among industry associations for unique networking opportunities, its focus on problem-solving, aggregation of information, dissemination of best practices, affordable and effective technology-enhanced training and its leadership in championing the newspaper industry.   The Atlanta-based association, founded in 1903, includes more 500 print and digital newspaper members and nearly 60 R&D partners that supply goods and services to the newspaper industry.

About Inland Press Association: For more than 130 years, the Inland Press Association has supported and sustained newspapers that help grow local business, inform and engage their audiences - and sustain civil society and liberty. In addition to its industry meetings and educational programming, Inland produces research that newspapers use to compare their performances to peers, to identify business opportunities, to monitor employee morale and efficiency and track cost and revenue trends across time. The association, based in Des Plaines, Illinois, has more than 1,200 newspaper and R&D members.

Members of the SNPA-Inland Consolidation Exploration Committee: 

Chris Reen, co-chair
Colorado Spring Gazette

Doug Phares, co-chair
Sandusky Newspapers

Charles Hill Morris
Morris Multimedia

Cory Bollinger
GateHouse Media

Bill Barker
LOCALiQ/USA Today Network   
Alan Fisco
Seattle Times

David Dunn-Rankin
D-R Media

Jeremy Halbreich
AIM Media Management

Edward VanHorn
Southern Newspaper
Publishers Association
(404) 256-0444

Tom Slaughter
Inland Press
(847) 795-0381

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