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In Their Words: How do you plan for your 200th anniversary?
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Left, to right: Bill Koltek, universal desk, Teri Hayt, executive editor, John Druga, universal desk and Laura Kessel, managing editor, take part in the daily budget meeting.
Left, to right: Bill Koltek, universal desk, Teri Hayt, executive editor, John Druga, universal desk and Laura Kessel, managing editor, take part in the daily budget meeting.
April 2, 2014 7:38 a.m.

In Their Words is a weekly guest blog written by GateHouse newsroom editors. It is designed to provide insight into today's topics and issues facing the journalism profession and to add context as they relate to newsrooms. The authors will share valuable best practices, content opportunities and advice on the many challenges facing our industry.

This week’s guest is Teri Hayt, executive editor of The Repository in Canton, Ohio, and its sister papers The Independent in Massillon, The Times-Reporter in New Philadelphia and The Suburbanite in Akron.

On March 30, 2015, The Repository will celebrate its 200th anniversary. This is a major milestone for any business, but when you are the voice of the community for 200 years, you have to celebrate in a big way. Ohio was 11 years old when The Repository began publication. We have seen a lot and told an amazing number of stories over the last 200 years.

But where do you begin — with a committee (or two) of course.

Several staff members from around the building met two months ago and created a very preliminary outline for the main areas we need to address:

1. Community Outreach — is this a party or parties? Receptions with public and staff? We will be doing outreach on stories, oldest carriers/etc. Do people have any “artifacts” from the paper, such as a favorite front page?

2. Business — we have a start on this with last year’s premium edition, Stark 100, where many local businesses shared their stories with us. What else should we be doing for local advertisers? Hall of Fame should figure prominently in planning because our editorials helped draw it here. (We need to discuss revenue opportunities and that will be incorporated in the next series of meetings.)

3. Arts — Create a large commercial art piece that we donate back to community, something substantial that has meaning that can live on in our community. Specific ideas? Costs?

Each topic has a champion and members of the committee will flesh out the teams. We will include many other people, possibly from our readership and community as we develop the framework of ideas and identify needed expertise to throw a party or write a book, play or create a series of reader interactive events throughout the year. Readers tell their stories about the Rep ala NPR’s story core; this has print and video possibilities.

I have assembled the principle news team to start to locate and gather content. Stan Myers from photo, and Jim Hillibish and Gary Brown from the features department are our resident historians and our “first responders” on this project.

Here’s the team’s agenda for the first 30 days, starting April 1:

1. Locate our very first edition and find a way to duplicate/remake it.

2. PHOTO is identifying content now that we will need to digitize. Our photo library doesn’t exist before 1952 (negatives were thrown out when previous administrations said they required too much storage space). Where do we get photos prior to ’52?

3. Preliminary: I would like to publish a story from The Rep that appeared 200 years ago during our yearlong celebration. One story every day, anchored to the front page (?). This will require extensive research through the microfilm.

4. Locate all our front pages. They are probably on microfilm. We will need to evaluate how we can reproduce them. Our experience from the Independent’s 150th anniversary last year taught us to start early and expect very poor quality. Even with poor reproduction, our intent is to produce a premium edition with our front pages. I’d like to see this launch on Jan. 1, 2015? There will be other premium ideas but until we start to dig, we will not know what is available—historic downtown? Editorials through the ages? Founding fathers?

5. Design a logo. Dayna Yurkovich is coordinating the 200th logo contest; a note went out to the staff seeking designs.

These are my immediate concerns, and I know they will expand as we progress with planning.

It will all come down to a carefully crafted plan that is realistic about what we want and what we can produce. This is a celebration for The Repository, but, more importantly, a celebration of our readers and advertisers who have supported us for the last 200 years.

Stay tuned; it should be quite a party.

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