Sixth generation leads Rome Sentinel Company into future

Published Feb 23, 2018 at 12:01pm

The Rome Sentinel Company has been positioning itself as a media company, not just a newspaper business, according to general manager Brad Waters, the sixth generation to lead the company. That includes starting a weekly publication, the Clinton Record, and looking at other publishing opportunities.

In 2017, publisher Stephen B. Waters obtained 99 percent ownership of the Rome Sentinel Co., “which put us in the driver’s seat,” to be able to make changes faster and achieve the company’s vision, said his son, Brad. The younger Waters said he has been “picking apart and figuring out what our future would be.”

Last year, he said, was about setting up for the future, especially the immediate future. It was, he said, “a reflection year. What do we want to do and what do we want to be?”

In 2018, said Brad Waters, there will be “more content overall.”

The company is launching the Clinton Record on March 14. It will focus on the Clinton and Westmoreland areas.

“The overall goal is to cover Oneida County better,” Waters said. That means covering Rome and beyond. The Daily Sentinel, he said, will be the daily hub for regional hard news, with features and other content spread out in
it and other publications. And that includes local sports. “Sports are huge in Oneida County,” Waters noted.

The publications will “build our local news,” rather than
focus too much on national news that readers can get from
national sources. “Very few places have Rome news. We want to be the best provider of local news,” he said. He added, “we feel that print products still have a place.”

Then there’s the internet, where will evolve to be a 24/7 news cycle source, Waters said. “We want web to be unique.” But it will also not be free, he said. Newspapers are moving into a present and future with pay walls, and the Sentinel will be joining.

Waters equated paying for digital news content to paying for
digital music. What was once a revelation for which some
questioned its viability is now the norm, with purchases through websites and paid subscriptions to streaming services.

“When you subscribe to a newspaper, you’re investing in
the writer,” Waters said. The Sentinel provides information with which readers can process and make decisions. The challenge will
be to continue to provide news that people want. “We can make it easier and more worthwhile” through engagement, he noted. The community will help determine coverage “because we’re here for them and not the other way around.”

The company also spent 2017 expanding into other media opportunities: internal printing, commercial printing, building websites, digital advertising and marketing and news are all areas the company now handles.

The Rome Sentinel was first published as a daily newspaper on July 15, 1852. The evening paper is produced Monday through Saturday, with a weekly newspaper, the Seven Day Sentinel, included in Saturday’s edition.

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