Dave Staab, standing in front of The Progress News building on Main Street in Emlenton.
When we think of Redevelopment, we often think of revitalizing crumbling buildings or creating new industries. The process of learning, adaptation, and growth that is redevelopment, though, applies to just about everyone and everything. Businesses and organizations have to continually redevelop their ways of operating if they want to stay relevant and profitable, and communities both support and are supported by these institutions.
The business of newspaper publishing is one that feels especially pressed to adapt right now. In fact, a 2019 University of North Carolina study recommended that newspapers be prepared to completely change up a major portion of their business model – such as printing and distribution, revenue generation, or reader engagement – every five years.
Dave Staab, the owner and editor of Emlenton’s own local newspaper, The Progress News, understands this need for constant reinvention all too well. Dave has been involved in the newspaper business most of his life, starting when his father, Walter, purchased the paper in 1968. Newspaper publishing was going through a major change even then, switching from “hot type,” or traditional Linotype letterpress printing, to “cold type,” otherwise known as phototypesetting and offset printing.
“I started when I was in high school, in 1974 and ‘75,” Dave shared. “I’d come in to help my dad on the weekends; it kept me out of trouble!” The transition to phototypesetting was complete by then, but it wouldn’t be long before another technological innovation – computer word processing – changed everything all over again. “What I learned in college is just gone, forget it,” Dave laughed, sharing that his secret weapon in the current digital age is his son, Brian.
Besides being lucky enough to have tech-savvy offspring, Dave praised the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff of the Progress for the paper’s survival. He admitted that it can be tiring to learn a new way of doing things all the time and noted that “you’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you don’t, you get burned out.” Dave said that his staff always step up to the challenge, though, and “it’s just so much easier to have everyone doing their job; they get it done. That’s a blessing, for sure.”
Even with everyone coming together to get the paper printed and distributed every week, things have been tough for the last few years. Newspapers, especially free papers like the Progress, rely on advertising revenue to stay afloat. “We lost the big account, Trader Horn. That hurt. It’s been a struggle to regain all that,” Dave admitted. “We were almost back to where we were at, and then the pandemic hit. It’s frustrating.”
Through it all, though, the community has come through for the paper, and Dave noted that the Progress is “very blessed with the people that read the paper. They respond to the community news and requests,” and he wanted to especially thank the readers for responding to ads in the paper. “Without our advertisers we couldn’t survive. Thank you for being loyal readers!”
Staab Typographic prints 14,000 copies of The Progress News each week and mails out 11,000 to 12,000 copies across Venango, Clarion, Armstrong, and Butler counties, as well as operating a full-service print shop making business cards, brochures, paperback books, calendars, and more. The Progress News is also available online at www.myprogressnews.com and through the My Progress News app.