Ensuring Legacy of Successful Newspaper Business a Priority for CIMA Member Inside Publications – McKinley Park News
News and events for Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood
The McKinley Park News is a proud member of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) and offers this profile of fellow member Inside Publications for our readers to enjoy.
What’s the biggest problem for a successful local newspaper publisher? Finding a successor.
“It’s my number one worry,” said Publisher Ron Roenigk, who oversees Inside Publications and its three newspapers of record for Chicago’s North Side: Skyline, Inside-Booster and News-Star.
Although all three print publications drive revenue toward his profitable local news business, Roenigk said he’s out of ideas for who might take over his newspapers, which have been making money and employing journalists since 1904.
“It’s not easy to convince someone to buy into the news business,” he said. “I need to find someone to take this over.”
“I don’t want to be the guy who shuts [the newspapers] down,” Roenigk said. “What do I do to allow the legacy of these papers to continue?”
Roenigk has been a longtime newspaperman, building from his Good News Weekly in the Lincoln Square neighborhood to purchase the Skyline and News-Star from the Lerner newspaper chain in 2009, and Inside-Booster in 2012.
Although Roenigk went to journalism school and ran local papers since he was 27 years old, he was occupied as a liquor store owner and proprietor before the 2009 purchase. (“In a previous life,” he said.) He said his brother encouraged him to take the plunge fully into the newspaper business, even in the midst of an economic recession.
After purchasing the newspapers, Roenigk found quick success thanks to large amounts of classified advertising inspired by the housing foreclosure crisis and the related legal notices mandated for publication in the newspaper of record for every Illinois township.
“It all came to us,” he said. “It was luck. Just luck. Totally out of nowhere. It saved us.”
Inside Publications currently employs dozens of newspaper workers, including a staff of around 20 writers, two sales pros and a three-person distribution team, Roenigk said.
Currently the business enjoys multiple revenue streams through the three newspapers, which Roenigk said was very helpful when advertising budgets pull back or the newsprint cartel jacks up prices (again).“I’m lucky,” Roenigk said. “Business-wise, I’m not complaining.”
Roenigk is very optimistic about the future potential for local news. “In my time, we have never been more popular, in terms of the content we provide,” he said. “I have trouble meeting capacity.”
“There has never been a stronger demand for local content consumption,” he said.
Roenigk sees the greatest potential in online media, noting that 35 percent to 40 percent of his costs are overhead related to printing and physical distribution. “The future is digital,” he said.
Roenigk said he’s very excited about the current and future activities of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA), of which Inside Publications is a member.
This collective performs an important service through its local journalism, he said. “It’s a business, but we’re here in a service sense, too.”
Roenigk pointed to the fall 2022 CIMA fund-raiser as an effective way for local residents to show their support for independent local journalism.
“When you donate to the CIMA fund-raiser, you’re not just helping us, but Chicago’s whole news ecosystem,” he said.
The Chicago Independent Media Alliance (CIMA) is a partnership of independent, local, and community-driven media entities covering communities throughout the city. Through regular collaboration and the creation of new revenue streams, we uplift each other in order to amplify the voices of Chicagoans.
From October 3rd to 17th, 2022, we are hosting our third annual CIMA fundraiser. By donating at SaveChicagoMedia.org, you can support the work of up to 40 of our member outlets who ensure the voices of thousands of Chicagoans are heard.
Donate today at SaveChicagoMedia.org.
Founded in 2019, CIMA is a project of the Reader Institute for Community Journalism, publisher of the Chicago Reader.
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