More than ink on paper

LAC chair stresses the importance of media telling its own story

By DONNIS BAGGETT
Texas Press Association

The new chair of Texas Press Association’s Legislative Advisory Committee says Texas newspapers “have a good story to tell,” but publishers must stress the fact that they offer more than simply ink on paper.

“We have got to sell the fact that we are all media companies with large digital audiences on top of our print readership,” said Bill Patterson, publisher of the Denton Record-Chronicle. “We all have strong social media presence as well. We can say that through all of our channels we reach more readers now than we ever have.

“We need to be more aggressive in carrying that tone as we interact with folks in Austin. We can’t let ourselves be referred to as simply newspapers.”

Patterson, 55, has served on the association’s legislative committee for the past six years. He assumes the position that was held by Moser Community Media president Jim Moser during the past three legislative sessions. Moser will continue to serve as a member of the LAC.

“The biggest challenge we face, in my opinion, is getting out our story — that we’re more than just a printed newspaper — to the elected officials and their staffs.” - Bill Patterson

“Our industry did have some victories this last session and were able to fight off some of the public notice challenges, but that is getting harder every session. That is why it is so important we get consistency in how we sell ourselves.”

Patterson said his LAC experience has taught him “that one-on-one communication with elected officials is critical.”

“I have also learned that we have a really good group of publishers and editors who, when called upon, have really helped us win some battles,” he said.

Patterson’s immediate focus as LAC chair is an upcoming joint study on public notice by a panel of Texas House and Senate members. Hearings are expected to be held in 2016, in time for a special interim committee to prepare a report on public notice before the 2017 session of the Legislature.

“We need to come up with a plan that ties our print, digital and social readership/viewership together that will show the strength of Texas newspapers as media companies,” Patterson said. “We have to be willing to be flexible and creative in how we address this issue. We have funded a statewide readership/viewership study to be conducted in early 2016 that should provide some great data for us to use.”

Patterson urged TPA members to actively engage with the association’s legislative team.

“I hope that we can continue to see more participation both on the LAC and at the Capitol in the next session,” he said.

Patterson, a native of Denton, grew up in a newspaper family. As publisher and chief executive officer of Belo-owned Denton Publishing Company, he oversees the Denton Record-Chronicle, the Denton Business Chronicle and multiple special sections and projects.

A 1982 advertising graduate of Oklahoma State University, Patterson has served in a number of community,

state and regional leadership roles, including positions as board chairman of Presbyterian Hospital of Denton,

trustee of the Oklahoma State University Foundation and president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

Outgoing chairman Moser said the legislative committee has made great strides and should continue to do so.

“I am proud of the direction the LAC has taken over the last few sessions,”

Moser said. “The newspaper industry is more visible in Austin than it has been in many, many years. And that could not have been accomplished without the hard work of our committee members, TPA staff and the grassroots support from so many publishers across Texas.”

Moser praised the TPA board’s selection of Patterson to lead the LAC.

“You could not ask for a better chairman than Bill Patterson. He has been an active committee member for years and has never hesitated to appear in Austin when needed. He understands the process and his leadership will be invaluable toward TPA meeting its legislative objectives. I look forward to continuing as a committee member under Bill’s leadership.”

TPA President Glenn Rea praised the leadership of both Moser and Patterson.

“Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Well done is better than well said,’” Rea noted.

“The amount of work, dedication, and time Jim Moser spent as chairman of Texas Press LAC is overwhelming. That work was for us, our industry.

While growing his company, he kept the bigger picture in clear focus.

“I know Bill Patterson will be a great fit as the new LAC chairman…We are a fortunate press association.”

TPA board chairman Randy Mankin echoed those thoughts.

“During Jim Moser’s tenure as LAC chairman he worked tirelessly on behalf of Texas newspapers and the public’s right to know. His steady leadership was vital as the committee fought back bad bills while at the same time supporting bills that enhanced open government.

“Bill Patterson is a great choice to lead the LAC into the future. His years of experience on the committee will serve him well as he takes the helm and continues the fight for open government.”

 LAC PRIMARY CONTACTS

Bill Patterson: bpatterson@dentonrc.com or (940) 566-6808

Donnis Baggett: dbaggett@texaspress.com or (254) 652-9756