There has been a new hand at the helm of the Western News for a couple of months now, though it has been with a very light touch.
The Western News’ new publisher, Shannon Simpson, has been sitting in the corner office since Aug. 24, but he didn’t want to make a big splash of his taking over from former publisher Don Kendall.
“I like to listen and ask questions,” said Simpson, explaining that his first priority was understanding how the Western News operates and its place in the community.
Part of that was meeting the community leaders and others that have a vested interest in our newspaper and understanding their perspective on how we react and interact with our readers, with our storytelling, with our advertisers and our community obligations.
“I am interested in hearing those stories. To this point I have had nothing but great feedback from people that I have come across and had to deal with,” said Simpson. “It is a breath of fresh air for sure.”
Simpson, with close to three decades of experience at seven newspapers, comes to the Western News after spending 11 years in Saskatoon at the Star Phoenix and later as a business partner with the Saskatoon Express. He has recently been joined by his wife Liza and three sons, after completing the sale of their Saskatoon home. His son Jordan arrived at the beginning of September to begin his Grade 12 year at Penticton Secondary.
This isn’t the first time Simpson has worked for media in the Okanagan. From 1991 to 93, he worked for the Vernon Daily News as director of circulation, and from 2000-04, he was the regional director of reader sales and marketing for the Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald.
Simpson said his years of experience in newspaper marketing, distribution and advertising all comes back to understanding what your value proposition is for your client, whether reader or advertiser, and how you can give them opportunities to fulfill their marketing needs.
“I’ve heard wonderful feedback on how we not only handle our stories, but how we look after our clients, not only from an advertising perspective, but also the production and graphic design perspective. We get a tremendous amount of compliments on our work and how we have the ability to really turn our efforts and projects around in a short period of time,” said Simpson. “That gives me a really good sense the paper is entrenched in the community. We know what our place is and we know what we need to do to continue to be successful.”
Being successful, Simpson said, starts with the readers.
“That for me is the most fundamental part of what we do. If you don’t have your readership, you don’t have buyers that go out to your advertisers. You have to start with creating readers,” he said.
Simpson sees his current role as continuing to grow the Western News brand and find new revenue opportunities, whether that is through features, special projects or community involvement
“It may not even have to end up as ink landing on paper. My job is to seek out those opportunities which will continue to strengthen our position as the leading newspaper in this community,” said Simpson. “I am not afraid to say that. That is our standing. Our direction now is to continue to bring that message to the masses and continue to offer our advertisers great opportunities to enhance their businesses.”