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ONMA board acts on dues, ad revenue and new director search

Following more than a year of study, the Ohio News Media Association Board of Trustees approved a new method of calculating the dues investments of its members at its October meeting in Sandusky.

Dues will be based on the size of print and digital audiences. The formula is weighted heavily to print readership, because a print reader still generates far more revenue in most cases.  The old formula was outmoded and based on print circulation and the cost of a full-page ad at open rates.

The board also approved a “cushion” for members who might be affected too adversely by the change. For 2019, no one will be asked to pay more than 3 percent of what was invoiced in 2018. Some members will see reductions of up to 1 percent. Group discounts also were simplified to 4 percent across the board for qualifying groups.

Members will be asked to update two data points on an annual basis: highest circulation day of the week and average monthly unique visitors over the past 12 months. Executive Director Dennis Hetzel noted that having this information also will assist in AdOhio in quotes to potential clients.

“The dues committee worked hard over the summer on a couple different scenarios and the new formula became the consensus of the committee after other methods were vetted. It appears to be the most reasonable way to maintain current dues income levels and change the formula to something that is more workable for the future of our industry,” said Monica Nieporte, President. “I’d especially like to thank Dennis and Bill Southern for all of the number-crunching assistance they provided to the effort. The scenarios we worked had a lot of variable factors and Bill’s accounting expertise was very helpful."

The board also voted to support funding of a nationwide study being conducted by the state press associations in North America to help them improve the branding, performance and ultimately the results of their advertising affiliates such as AdOhio.  

Hetzel told the board that the state associations face the same challenges as our newspaper members in terms of increasing advertising revenue. AdOhio is up substantially (about 60 percent) in gross revenue to year earlier with most of that going to ONMA members for placements and printing. However, that is off a far-lower basis than peak years. Plus, when AdOhio is profitable, this supports all other association activities and provides an alternative revenue stream to dues.

The board also heard a report on the ongoing search for a new executive director to replace Hetzel, who has announced his intention to retire in April 2019. Ron Waite, publisher of the Sandusky Register and chair of the search committee, said the committee has selected semi-finalists and hopes to recommend a successor to the board before year-end.

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