What are some healthy characteristics of newspaper boards?

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Cribb, Greene & Associates has advised a number of family media companies during these unsettled times. By slicing across all of the boards, what are some of the healthy characteristics that we have observed that are the most effective for family owned companies in today's transitioning media environment?

Here are a few:

  1. The board is organized in a structure that allows professional meetings, with a chairman, an agenda and time allocated for each of the important topics that need discussion. The meetings start on time, people don't forget to be there, in fact it is a priority for them, and they treat it as such.
  2. Boards have terms and time limits that bring a business formality to the process. Members are engaged and come to meetings prepared.
  3. Healthy boards care about top management and understand that it is the board's responsibility to care for the CEO of the company.
  4. Strong boards bear pain; they don't inflict it.  When times are difficult, their shoulders are broad.
  5. The board is accountable to the shareholders and to one another.
  6. The role of the chairman is essential in building community and fostering intra-personal relationships within the board.
  7. Effective boards embrace the company's strategic vision and strategic plan and take time to understand both.
  8. Effective boards have working committees with specific charters and a specific time line and seek outside help when needed.
  9. Effective boards realize the importance of shareholder dividends, but put the company's needs first. Even-handed stock redemption plans are also an indicator of a healthy board.
  10. Effective boards don't see outside directors as a threat, but essential for new ideas and networking.

Gary Greene is managing director of Cribb, Greene & Associates.  He can be reached at (434) 227-0952 or ggreene@cribb.com.

Cribb, Greene

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