After 102 years, the New England Association of Circulation Executives (NEACE) has its first African American president. Warren C. Dews Jr., a Bronx, N.Y. native, was named president at the NEACE spring conference in May.
Dews began his career in media in 1993 working at what is now called The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. as a telemarketer. Throughout his long career, Dews has been in charge of advertising, marketing, sales and operations. Most recently, he worked for New England Newspapers Inc. for nine years, where he served as vice president of circulation and vice president of audience development, sales and marketing, before leaving as chief consumer of sales and events officer in April. He is currently the chief operations officer of the National Press Institute for Audience Growth.
When asked what the biggest lesson he’s learned so far in his career was, Dews said it’s that “newspapers forgot who they really were.” They have spent the last several years giving away their content, he explained.
“You can’t give this away. Local newspapers should thrive because people need trusted news,” he said. “People can get news anywhere, but is it trusted?”
Dews also told E&P that the industry must put money back into local journalism and a good way to do that is through events. “Be engaged with your community by being not just the place where they can get news and information, but the place where they can go to a nice concert or have a nice conversation about a topic—that’s important to the community.”
Looking ahead, Dews already has ideas for what he plans to do at NEACE. “My goal is to make sure publishers see NEACE as important. That they send their people to our training so that organizations partner with us and we don’t have these silos.” He also hopes to make publishers realize that the sales and circulation departments are just as important as the writing that goes on in their newsroom.
As the first African American leader of the organization, Dews said the accomplishment felt “really good because diversity to me is very important in this community…We have Hispanics, we have blacks, we have people from different countries and their voices need to be heard too—a lot of newspapers don’t have that diversity.”
Dews believes his new role is a good step forward for diversity, but he is also aware that it took 102 years for NEACE to have its first African American president.
“Diversity is key,” Dews said. “We need to work on it, but if you don’t have that, still realize that people need to see themselves and read about themselves in the paper.”