Summer meeting musings

Well, we just wrapped up what I like to call the Texas Press Association’s very first “international conference” — the TPA Summer Leadership Retreat in Ruidoso, NM. Heck, we were even in a different time zone!
As always, the gathering was a great success. It featured great programs and discussion. And it gave us the opportunity to offer a huge “Thank You!” to outgoing TPA President Randy Keck for the stellar job he did for the organization this past year.
I always love attending our TPA gatherings. For me they are a type of family reunion, during which so much good takes place in so many ways.
For some reason this retreat had an added effect on me. As I sat through the various sessions, listening to and watching my colleagues, I found my mind wandering a bit. Following are some of the thoughts I stumbled upon.
I am, once again, convinced that there is no other job in this world that could make me feel so fulfilled. And listening to my colleagues and their stories makes me want to do a better job in serving my staff, my community and my profession.
Speaking of my profession, I believe our industry needs to stop engaging in a certain sort of silliness. I am amazed at how so many people in our business segregate who we are: metros, communities, weeklies. There are still just too many people who think that because their newspaper paper falls into one of those categories, they somehow have very little, if anything, in common with the other two.
 It’s funny: During my involvement with TPA, I have spent a lot of time talking shop with colleagues. I have taken encouragement and comfort from them. I have benefited from so many ideas they have freely shared.
And for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you the publishing cycle and/or the circulation size of probably two-thirds of my colleagues’ papers. To me, Mary and Murray Judson are not heads of a 4,153-circulation newspaper in Port Aransas that publishes every Thursday. Leonard Woolsey does not lead The Galveston County Daily News, a 25,759-circulation daily.
They are newspaper publishers. Period.
They, along with the rest of TPA’s membership, work very hard and very smart with their dedicated staffs each and every day to produce quality and compelling newspapers that keep their communities so very well informed and their advertisers satisfied.
Sure, no two newspapers are exactly alike. The scale of our individual markets means we will have staffs of different sizes and go about our businesses in somewhat dissimilar ways. 
But all of us have a common core to our mission: to provide credible, engaging, informative – and mostly local – news and information to the communities we serve. And we strive to offer marketing solutions that help business of all sorts succeed.
We have so much to learn from each other. And together we can do so much through TPA to help our industry.
Last but not least, I continued to hear throughout the meeting that we have plenty of problems facing our industry. But I take comfort in seeing how we always seem to come together to help each other figure out how to tackle them.
That’s the beauty of TPA.
And I continue to try and keep it all in perspective. Heck, we have always faced problems in the newspaper business: TV was going to bury us; the Internet is going to be the last nail in our collective coffin. Yeah . . . and my press broke down and I don’t have enough copy editors to put out the next day’s edition!
Yet, we have always figured out a way to persevere and to succeed.
It’s what we do. And deep down we love what we do, in part, because it is oh so challenging.
In the movie “A League of Their Own,” Tom Hanks said it best:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard . . . is what makes it great.”