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Watertown Daily Times, Changing With the Times: Part 5

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Watertown Daily Times, Changing With the Times: Part 5
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- It's said the newspaper is more for the older generation, and industry-wide, with the demise of some papers, it appears there's some truth to that.

But the executives at the Watertown Daily Times say with some fresh ideas that page can turn to get younger readers.

Just last week the Watertown Daily Times got an in-depth interview with North Country congressional candidate Aaron Woolf. He hasn't done a lot of public speaking in what's turning out to be a huge political story in 2014, so it was a big deal.

It certainly couldn't wait until the next morning -- or even for a Web write-up. So the paper got on social media to live tweet it.

"We're doing a good job with it. Can we do a better job? Absolutely. Are we learning about it everyday? Absolutely," said John B. Johnson, the CEO and co-publisher of the Watertown Daily Times. "You have to because it's changing everyday."

Engaging on Twitter, and other social media, has become a way to keep up with the times, but also a way to introduce a younger audience. The Daily Times also puts those award-winning photos on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The Johnsons say if your child has ever played a sport on any level in its coverage area, they are almost certain a picture is on one of those websites.

"When it comes out and it's printed in the paper and there's little Sally spiking the ball that's a big hit and there's always somebody that wants extra copies of that photograph," said Harold Johnson, the paper's president and co-publisher.

"That got picked up by all their friends. It got tagged. It got picked up by their friends so we can reach them in a variety of different ways," said John Johnson.

And that can turn into revenue. There are not too many advertisers that frown upon a younger audience -- high school, college and even young professionals.

The Times is constantly looking for ways to feature and attract them. Even by taking another shot at what so many say can't work: Creating several new print magazines based off its already popular NNY Business brand.

"That NNY brand has expanded into a living magazine, just this year we've launched wedding magazine that's going to come out. Now we've launched a Homes and Premiere Properties magazine that we're direct mailing into high income households," John Johnson said.

"We've seen people come into the chamber wanting that magazine, requesting how to get information about it, how do they get into the magazine? How can they get a story in the magazine? How can the magazine highlight their story and their business?" said Lynn Pietroski, CEO and president of the Greater Watertown North Chamber of Commerce.

The question is, how much longer can the actual printing of those be cost-efficient?

So the paper is now looking to try something it tried before, a subscription fee that it tried in years past.

"I think we were well ahead of the curve. So that was eight years ago, and now 40 percent I think, and I could be wrong on this statistic, but about 40 percent of daily newspapers now have paywalls in the country," John Johnson said.

"We're toying with that in a couple of areas right now with a couple of our outlying newspapers," Harold Johnson said.

It goes back to that Serenity Prayer-type philosophy the paper has used to carry itself over the mess that so many have been stuck in.

Accept what cannot be changed. Change the things it can. And know the difference.

"For my whole life, my father's life, my grandfather's life, we've distinguished ourselves here as being leaders, journalistic leaders to try and make sure that the North County is a better place to live tomorrow than it was today," John Johnson said.

"These have been trying times with the recession and the change in the industry. But I'm very proud that we've been able to do it and keep it in the family and hopefully this will continue on," Harold Johnson said.

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