Sun Times News getting back on track with Colby as executive director
Chuck Colby was appointed executive director at The Sun Times News as of this past August. Since then, he has been leading everyday operations at the company through its ongoing reorganization and the printing of its first two return issues on Oct. 1 and 8.
The publication suspended its weekly printed newspaper on Jul. 13, with that week’s Jul. 16 issue being the last printed Sun Times News edition in the company’s history of roughly 20 years.
The move also came due to the pandemic and its economic ill effects. Now, Colby’s first order of business has been reestablishing lost relationships and regaining the financial backing of local advertisers.
Read on the excerpt below as Colby answered some questions pitched by his own journalists.
Almost two issues in, and maybe two months of groundwork-laying prior to that, what have you done with the newspaper and where do you intend to take it by this time next year?
Colby: Just getting the first issue out was very much like going back to college. Long days, lots of cramming, a huge learning curve – It has been a challenge. That said, I am thrilled that the thing got done, and I think it looks better than ever. We have an incredible team of ace reporters – every one of them, a beautiful new layout, we’re working with a new printer and the whole thing has really come together.
The pre-election issues have been incredible, and I think that the content we are publishing there is among the most valuable that we have ever printed. I am really proud of our little team that is delivering above and beyond against the odds. We picked a hell of a time to try to re-boot a paper, but we are doing it!
What sort of response are you getting from people; readers, advertisers, the staff?
Colby: The response from the readers and advertisers has been overwhelmingly positive, I feel like we are doing important work here, it really matters. Over the next year, I see us returning to delivery in Pinckney and Manchester, and maybe even more. As long as the advertisers will support it, we will grow our coverage area.
For the folks throughout Washtenaw County outside of Dexter and the two people in Dexter that don’t know who you are, could you give us a feel for your professional background and how it plays into your present role at The Sun Times News?
Colby: Obviously, working for an ad agency for the past several years has been a great education from the other side of the table, but I think that everything that I have done has led me to this. It’s not what I EVER saw myself doing, but I am having a ball.
I have sold 95% of the shows that my singing group (THREE MEN and a TENOR) has done, so the business part of this is familiar to me. Working as the Development Director at The Encore Theatre, I really got to know a lot of folks in the community, and that has certainly helped.
Likewise, the Encore taught me an awful lot about service to the community, and that is what I think the paper is all about, while it is not a non-profit, we are serving the people in this region. Without journalists writing these stories, we are dependent upon Facebook for “news” in our towns, and when rumor becomes the “truth” we are in big trouble!