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Opinion: Looking at the next 40 years of SBJ

Publisher's Perspective

Posted online

Springfield Business Journal has turned 40, and now it’s in our rearview mirror.

This issue of SBJ’s print edition is Volume 41, Issue No. 1. We are spending this time to reflect on early hopes and goals in comparison to the list of accomplishments we can claim.

We also are looking forward ambitiously at the path ahead as we make plans for where we want to go and what we hope to be in the next 40 years.

Dr. Nancy O’Reilly boldly proclaimed 40 to be the pivotal power age in a blog a few years back about female leadership and aging. I think what she had to say has a lot of meaningful parallels to a small business going through the aging and development process.

O’Reilly said, “The simple word ‘turning’ means you can turn into anything you want to be. You can turn to anything that you want to. It also means you can turn on your passion, turn on your greatness, turn the page, turn the corner and move on.” She went on to say, “At 40, the doors are wide open, and you can still do anything you want.”

I recently had the opportunity to reflect on the early years of SBJ with my mother, founding publisher Dianne Elizabeth Osis. She most readily recalled the very early years as a time of turmoil and change.

Like all successful entrepreneurs, she was seeking to address a community need with her great invention, but she also was seeking personal security for her family and the families of the small staff she had assembled.

Very simply, she wanted SBJ to be a great place to work, to remain small enough to be flexible and for each issue of SBJ to be better than the last.

I think you can check all those boxes, Mom. You taught us well and our core mission of a quality news product and a place where staff members can thrive is unchanged. We have very intentionally resisted an overly corporate culture. We own “small and scrappy” and we wear it like a badge of honor. Like you, Mom, we continue to face challenges that force us to be stronger, do more and get better.

COVID-19 is no more a marker of our last 40 years as it is a predictor of our next. It is, however, a firestorm that no business, including ours, was built for.

This pandemic has forced us to embrace change in order to survive. Through this crisis we have produced some really amazing virtual events, engaged in distance learning and professional development for the staff, and incorporated new technologies for both off-site operations and product delivery. Most importantly, though, it has given us cause to remember how to fight through our challenges. When the smoke finally clears, that is precisely the skill from our past that we most want to take with us into the future.

My predictions for the years to come include:

• A predominant business news cycle that is shorter than a week. We already have a full cadre of daily e-news products. SBJ is committed to that niche. We will never forgo timely news in favor of flashy presentation that delays delivery.

• A widening readership demographic. As SBJ continues to expand product offerings and delivery vehicles that include but are no longer limited to print, circulation that spans from young professionals to post-retirement boomers will continue to grow.

• An increasingly diverse staff and readership. SBJ has lots of room to grow in this arena. An internal committee is forming now to begin identifying the changes that are needed as a catalyst for diversity and inclusion in hiring, training, news coverage, and awards nomination, judging and recognition.

These are just a few of the things that lie ahead for SBJ. We intend to conquer the future with the simple, flexible enthusiasm of our youth and with the wisdom, stability and maturity that has come from experience. SBJ is 40 and thriving!

We are honored to have earned your trust as readers in the last four decades and will continue to be “one to watch” as we innovate through the next 40 years. As my mother likes to say, “It isn’t over until it’s over.”

Springfield Business Journal Publisher Jennifer Jackson 
can be reached at jjackson@sbj.net.

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