'99 Brings Reinvention to Ohio Newsweekly.
The name The Dayton Voice, used in the masthead of the Miami Valley’s independent news and entertainment weekly since August 1993, is about to be replaced. The new name of the area’s free alternative newspaper will be picked this month, the outcome of a process that will include a reader contest to help us choose that name.
Through the month of January, we will be a paper in transition, preparing for a number of significant design, editorial and marketing changes that will accompany a new name and usher in a 5-year plan that will more than double our audience and spread our influence throughout the Miami Valley.
It was a challenge by the Village Voice in New York City that initiated these changes. Though we reacted defiantly at first, telling a lawyer for the Village Voice to “stuff it,” or words to that effect, we began discussions with them aimed at resolving a potential conflict. During those discussions, two things became clear.
One was that our needs to grow our audience, continue to develop editorially and strengthen our graphic appearance were our most important business priorities. The second fact that became evident was that we didn’t need to be the “Voice” to pursue those improvements.
What we needed was the same energy and attitude that has been at work in founding and growing this paper in the first place. Today, more than 10 percent of the adults in the Miami Valley read our paper regularly. Reaching that audience of more than 75,000 readers has been no small achievement. But our goal is to reach 150,000 people on a regular basis with editorial content that will enrich and complement their lives.
As 1999 begins, all of us in media are aware that Americans have less faith and trust in their government and other institutions, and, even, in their own community than at any time in memory. That faith and trust is so low, it will lead to dramatic changes in the world we live in as we all continue to reject what no longer works and grow more creative in our efforts to build new communities and new institutions. We are resolved to participate in that process and, here at one newspaper, to begin creating new media.
In the process, we resolve to leave behind what has not worked. In addition, recognizing that the Village Voice has a far stronger attachment to being the Voice than we do, we will leave that name behind as well. It worked for us for five years, but we plan so many changes in the coming year — in editorial content, in graphic presentation and in distribution and marketing strategy — that we see a name change as part of moving on. Now, as part of that process, we will ask new readers and old to join us in reinventing our paper.
This piece first ran in the Dayton Voice’s Jan. 7 issue. Reprinted with permission.