The Sixth GEN: Hugh Osteen absorbs new ideas for an old family
Hugh Osteen comes from a newspaper family. He was so well-acquainted with SNPA that he applied for the NEX GEN program as soon as he could – too soon, in fact.
It was suggested that Osteen get some more experience and develop his skill set before re-applying. A couple of years later he joined the 2016-17 class of the mentoring program for up-and-coming executives.
"I've been going to SNPA conferences since I was five years old," said Osteen, 28. "I am the sixth generation in our family in the newspaper business, so I kind of grew up going to all these things."
Osteen Publishing Co. is based at The Sumter Item in South Carolina, dating back to 1894. The family also has properties in Alabama, Florida and New Mexico. Osteen, based in Jacksonville, Fla., was the digital coordinator for the company when he started the NEX GEN program. He was involved with website redesign, getting content online, and advertising and sales.
Now, he is becoming market manager for the company's Florida properties, which include weekly papers Clay Today and the Ponte Vedra Recorder as well as Publication Distribution Services. While the job is still being defined, Osteen said he will be the "point man" in Florida.
"Our company has expanded since 2011," Osteen said. "We've grown a ton, and some of our recent acquisitions are in Florida. I started out in New Mexico, where we have a paper. After a year in New Mexico I wanted to come back to the East Coast, and I wanted to be in our newer properties and figure them out."
Although Osteen is well versed in the family business, he said the NEX GEN program helped him learn about how other people and companies operate. He found that they shared similar frustrations but also similar successes.
"The program in general was great, every conference call, the video conferences. I learned so much. A lot of the people in the program were closer to my age than most of the people I work with on a daily basis. So it was really nice to be able to bounce ideas off people and see what they're doing that works at their properties."
Osteen said he felt that he was mentored by the whole NEX GEN group, as everyone was open to helping with a question or problem. Six video conferences are held through the year and participants are encouraged to attend SNPA events.
"I've been able to see what everyone else was doing and how they're successful, whether it's digital or presenting new types of media through video, through news re-caps, things like that. I'm going to hop right in and get that going for us."
SNPA will invite applications this summer for the NEX GEN Class of 2018-19.
Watch for additional interviews with members of the 2016-17 NEX GEN Class in upcoming issues of the eBulletin.
Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggestions for future stories and comments on this piece are welcomed.