Vahldiek Takes SNPA Helm p. 33

By: Stacy Jones CONSIDERING HER LINEAGE, it should be no surprise that Lissa Walls Vahldiek is the new president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.
Vahldiek officially began her yearlong term at the SNPA convention in Boca Raton, Fla.
The COO of Southern Newspapers Inc. ? founded by her father, Carmage Walls ? Vahldiek has been in the newspaper business literally from the moment she was born. The close proximity has given her insight into all aspects of the business.
Upon graduating in 1980 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Vahldiek worked as a general assignment reporter for the Rosenberg Herald-Coaster, a Texas daily owned by her father. Looking back on her two-year stint as a reporter, she joked, "My father paid my salary. Basically, he sold me into slavery."
In 1982, Vahldiek left editorial and began working on special projects for the family medical research foundation. A few years later, she moved again, this time to the financial side of the business where she was enmeshed in the newspaper's inner workings. However, said Vahldiek, her perspective as a publisher of small newspapers may be her most valuable offering to the SNPA, whose 430 members are predominately small to medium size newspaper publishers. "It's important to keep in mind the makeup of the membership when deciding what to offer," she said . "I relate well to SNPA history and the people who have made it such a fine institution. My family had a long, wonderful history with SNPA."
The Walls family business, Houston-based SNI, is comprised of 20 newspapers, none over 30,000 circulation.As president, Vahldiek said she hopes to help members deal with the unique problems that face small newspapers, the most challenging of which is to "find, hire and keep good people on staff."
"I understand that small newspapers are going to be the training ground for larger newspapers," ceded Vahldiek. Nonetheless, "being able to pay people what they need to live, so they will stay" is a goal to shoot for, she added.
Another issue small newspaper owners are grappling with is how to respond to the Internet, said Vahldiek. "They see it as a concern, asking, 'What should I be doing? How quickly? and Can I afford it?'" SNPA answered by organizing a workshop, held in September, to deal with member questions about Web sites, servers and setup costs. An expanded version will take place next year, she said.
Such an action, said Vahldiek, is the purpose of SNPA."The newspaper industry is changing and will change faster than we can imagine in the coming years," she said. "SNPA has to listen to the needs of our membership and react quickly. . . .Quite honestly, if we can continue to do the things we are doing now, . . . I will be very happy," said Vahldiek.


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