A home page with over 100 ads! Checking in with industry veteran Howard Owens

Exploring the life of a small town online-only news publisher


Howard Owens published his first newspaper in fourth grade, which is likely why soon after graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University with a degree in literature, he and a partner became owners of The Beacon, a biweekly newspaper in the City of San Diego. After that, he decided to branch out to other publishing companies as a reporter and editor. In 1995, he and a partner founded East County Online (ECO), the first chain of weekly newspapers with Web sites. ECO featured not only content from six community weeklies but original content, a Web directory of local businesses, reader submissions (now called user-generated content) and a community club (now called virtual community). In 1995, a Wired Magazine poll found that ECO was the 66th most popular news Web site in the world.

After Owen's success in pioneering digital publishing at East County Online and holding senior management positions in digital media at the Ventura County Star and Bakersfield Californian, he was hired by Gatehouse Media as Director of Digital Publishing. In 2008, one of his duties was to launch The Batavian, an experimental online-only newspaper in Batavia, NY. When Gatehouse decided to scrap the project one year later, Owens negotiated a deal with Gatehouse to take over the Website, and the rest is history.

Since 2008, Howard Owens has been living in Batavia, NY, as the Owner and Publisher of The Batavian, a popular, local news operation that serves Genesse County, NY (population 60,000). Even though some industry pundits think Owen's online publishing model, which includes having over 100 ads on his home page alone, is flawed and outdated, The Batavian is highly read. Moreover, it churns out enough profit to allow Owens to enjoy a comfortable living while employing a local sales and editorial support team.

In this 114th episode of “E&P Reports,” Publisher Mike Blinder goes one-on-one with industry veteran and founding board member of Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Howard Owens about his 14 years as a local online-only news publisher and his feelings on the future of the industry as a whole.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here