Jeff Funk, publisher of the Enid News & Eagle since 2002, has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31.
“After 45-plus years in the daily newspaper business, it’s time to wrap up what has been a great career,” Funk said.
In addition to leading the News & Eagle and EnidNews.com, Funk has been a senior publisher responsible for the Woodward News and Duncan Banner, publications also owned by CNHI.
A successor will be named soon.
Funk came to the News & Eagle in 2001 as executive editor. He then was promoted to general manager and publisher. Prior to coming to Enid, he had served in news or management positions in five other daily newspapers: the Hutchinson News and Parsons Sun in Kansas, and in Nebraska at the Grand Island Independent, North Platte Telegraph and Beatrice Daily Sun.
“Journalism has been and continues to be a great career,” Funk said. “In 2020 more than ever before, what we do has been critical. In a year filled with social media misinformation and insults against ‘the media,’ our 127-year-old news organization has been trusted for reliable, accurate information. People need that.”
Funk noted that despite the financial challenges faced by newspapers, the readership of Enid News & Eagle products has grown – more than it was pre-pandemic or last year.
“People still think of us as ‘the newspaper,’ but we’ve grown into so much more,” Funk said. During his tenure as publisher, the News & Eagle has added:
•Etown, Enid’s lifestyle magazine
•Online news at EnidNews.com or accessed through a mobile app, which attracts another about 14,000 unique readers each day.
•Special events such as Candy Cane Cash, a popular shop-in-Enid promotion that hands out $15,000 cash each December to lucky shoppers.
•Breaking news text alerts, a free service sending reader-selected breaking news topics to about 3,300 cell phones.
•Ekids, Enid Newcomers Guide, the Northwest Oklahoma Medical Directory and other specialty magazines.
•Commercial printing for six other newspapers, including the Stillwater News Press, the Woodward News and the Oklahoma State University campus newspaper.
•News and promotion on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
•Daily email news alerts, a service requested by thousands of readers.
•Digital advertising, allowing local advertisers to target prospective customers anywhere based on interests, geography and other criteria.
•An E-edition or flipbook-style digital replica of the printed newspaper but accessible on phones, tablets and computers.
“It used to be we’d have one deadline each day, about an hour before the newspaper’s midnight press time,” Funk said. “Today, with round-the-clock updates online, the news deadline is now, immediately, as soon as we can confirm the facts or post a photo or video.”
In addition to his publisher role, Funk has been active in community activities, serving as a board member or officer of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, Enid United Way, David Allen Memorial Ballpark, Enid Rotary Club, Willow View United Methodist Church and Enid Public School Foundation. Professionally, he has been a board member and president of the Oklahoma Press Association. He served on the Journalism National Advisory Council at Kansas State University, where he earned a degree in journalism in 1975.
Funk said he was proud of the ways the newspaper’s about 110 employees and contractors support the community. “In addition to the volunteer work each of us do, the newspaper raises more than $10,000 each year for local charities,” he said. Also, the newspaper promotes the annual Pillar of the Plains recognition of local and regional volunteer leaders.
Funk said he most enjoyed finding new ways to reach out to readers and inform or entertain them.
“A few things – like OK Gambler magazine or sponsoring the Bill Engvall Blue Collar Comedy show – we won’t ever do again. But if you never try new things, you’ll stagnate and die,” he said.
Funk and his wife, LynnDe, will continue to live in Enid.
“We will continue to be involved in church and community activities,” Funk said, “now with a little more time.”