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Neuharth: When times get tough, the tough go to conventions

When times are tough, different people react differently in business or personal matters. Some hunker down, cancel everything and give up. Some cut back carefully. Some perk up and work even harder.

In this recession, we have plenty of all three in businesses of all kinds. In my field of newspapering, two contrasting approaches:

• The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) has canceled its annual national convention scheduled next month in Chicago.

• The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) made up mostly of publishers (bosses) is going ahead with its annual meeting next month in San Diego.

NAA is right about going ahead with its convention. But those newspaper bosses are wrong in telling their ASNE member editors that they can’t go to theirs.

Fact is, most state, regional, national and international meetings of business groups of all kinds are productive gatherings. Canceling them in tough times to avoid possible criticism by politicians or the press is stupid.

In the case of newspapers, examining and exchanging useful ideas now is more important than ever. Most of the nation’s 1,422 daily newspapers still are doing OK. Most are making 5 percent-10 percent return on their investments. Only a handful have folded, and a few have reduced publication days.

Talk of the death of all newspapers is nonsense. Most not only will survive but ultimately thrive again “if “they don’t give up but cut back intelligently now and then perk up and ride the economic recovery that is just around the corner.

On a personal note: We planned USA TODAY during the recession of 1980-82 and started it Sept. 15, 1982, after we sensed the recovery. It went on to become the country’s biggest newspaper.

Perk up.

Al Neuharth is founder of USA TODAY.



“We will never give up! Very few editors could attend this year, so we are having a ‘virtual’ convention online.”

— Charlotte Hall, president, American Society of Newspaper Editors and editor of the Orlando Sentinel

“Thanks, Al. Our industry is too important, too fraught with challenge and promise to skip discussions of strategy and business models critical to our future.”

— John F. Sturm, president and CEO, Newspaper Association of America, Arlington, Va.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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