Congratulations to Roy Eaton and Jerry Tidwell on the outstanding National Newspaper Convention and Trade Show that was held Oct. 2-5 at the Grand Hyatt hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Roy is the publisher of the Wise County Messenger, and Jerry is the publisher of the Hood County News. They served as co-chairmen of the NNA convention committee that planned and organized the event. Both men are past NNA presidents and past presidents of the Texas Press Association. In fact, Roy Eaton was NNA president the last time the group came to Texas. That was in Fort Worth in 1997.
I was honored to bear the Texas flag during this year's opening flag ceremony and to welcome the attendees to the Lone Star State. I know that everyone had a great time.
Tonda Rush, the NNA's chief executive officer, advises that the convention had the best attendance since the start of the recession in 2009. That may be partially due to the large number of Texas newspaper that were represented.
I am pleased to report that Texas newspapers also did their part in staging the event. The TPA sponsored and hosted an extravaganza at the Rio Cibolo Ranch where everyone was treated to a traditional Texas barbecue with all the trimmings. There was live music and dancing, a hayride, a caricature artist, a trick roping demonstration, longhorn cattle, and of course, a gunfight.
All five of state's regional press associations were also convention sponsors.
NNA President Robert M. Williams, chairman and publisher of the Southfire Newspaper Group in Blackshear, Georgia, completed his year in office at the end of the convention and passed the gavel to incoming President John Edgecomb Jr., publisher of The Nebraska Signal in Geneva, Nebraska. Congratulations to Robert Williams on a job well done and best wishes to John Edgecomb as he leads the NNA for the next year.
Among the people I enjoyed seeing at the convention was the NNA's postal consultant, Max Heath. Many years ago Max convinced me that I would see better results from the Post Office if I did a better job of preparing my mailing. It was good advice that has served me well through the years, saving time and money for my newspapers.
One of the concerns I heard from several Texas publishers, and an excuse offered by some for not attending, was how expensive it was to register for and attend the NNA convention, especially when compared to TPA conferences. For example, it cost $845 for Kathy and I to attend, and that didn't include the hotel room.
I thought it was a fair observation and took the opportunity to discuss it with TPA executive Director Micheal Hodges, who pointed out that the NNA's registration fees reflect the true cost of holding a convention, especially in a full-service venue like the Grand Hyatt.
Mike reminded me that TPA is able to hold down its dues and convention registration fees through its ownership of the Texas Press Service. The TPS is an advertising agency that earns commissions by selling and placing ads, thereby offsetting some of the TPA direct costs. The TPS also generates revenue for us when it places ads in our newspapers.
My point here is that TPA really does deliver a lot of bang for the buck, and more newspapers should take advantage of the services it provides.
On a side note, after visiting with Max Heath at the NNA convention, I did a little research into historical postal rates, particularly those paid by the first Texas newspapers. What I learned was that Texas had a post office even before it became an independent republic. It was established by the council at Washington on the Brazos with the primary goal of disseminating the news. Consequently, newspapers were delivered for free, at least in the early days.
The postage rate for a single sheet of paper, folded in half and addressed, was: 6.25 cents for less than 20 miles.That's $1.54 in 2014 currency. The rate doubled to 12.5 cents ($3.08) for 50 miles, 18.75 cents ($4.62) for any destination of 100 miles or more, and 25 cents ($6.16) for addresses that were more than 200 miles away.