What a busy week it was for news at The Columbian! As in, a lot happened at our business this week.
On Monday, we found out that we had won 12 awards in this year’s Society of Professional Journalists regional contest. I couldn’t be prouder of the great team of journalists we have at The Columbian, working every day to bring you the local news.
On Wednesday, Ben Campbell was officially announced as our new publisher. Ben follows in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father, Scott Campbell, who has been the CEO here since 1987. It’s exciting to see the Campbells’ dream of continuing family ownership come to fruition. They’ve been planning this for decades.
Because Ben is a quiet and unassuming person, I wanted to take this chance to find out more about him and share his answers with you. He is a good sport and agreed to answer my questions:
What’s your earliest memory of The Columbian?
I remember going around to the candy dishes in different departments. My favorite was the jellybean dish in advertising. For some reason, I really liked the black jellybeans even though I hate black licorice to this day.
Another early memory is being asked in third grade what I wanted to be when I grow up (I may have been around 8 years old). Until then, I wanted to be a paleontologist, but starting then and ever since, I’ve wanted to be publisher of The Columbian like my dad.
I know you started working here as a student in the “Project Next Generation.” What was that all about?
I remember doing odd jobs around The Columbian when I was younger, but I would consider the Next Generation development program my first official summer job. It was the summer after my freshman year at Mountain View High School, so that must have been 2003. For four weeks, I spent each week in a different department of the business (advertising, news, circulation, production). During my time in each department, I shadowed key people in order to get a general idea of how the department ran, what the different responsibilities were and how it tied in to the overall business. I met a lot of great people during that time, and many of them are people I still work with today.
What are the previous full-time jobs you’ve had here?
I’ve worked as a staff photographer, advertising sales representative, digital strategist and, most recently, I was the circulation and marketing director.
What does a publisher do all day, anyway?
The publisher is responsible for the strategic plan and profitability of the company. Succeeding in both of those areas requires good communication and relationships with our director team and building relationships with executives in other media companies to stay on top of industry developments. I’ve been reading a substantial amount of articles in the trade press and developing good habits so I can be a successful leader.
Family companies are a little different from other private firms. For example, aren’t you technically now your mom’s boss?
I think there is something special about working in a family company. We are able to make decisions based on what is best for our employees and community, rather than what is best for the stockholders. We can make decisions quickly and try new initiatives without having to run it up the flagpole for approval. We believe in an open-door policy here in order to promote effective communication with our people (although it’s been more of an “open-screen” policy with all the Zoom calls I’ve been on in the last couple months!).
Because we are all working remotely now, I see your dog on-screen. What’s its name?
His name is Gus, and he’s an 8-year-old border terrier. My wife and I also have an 8-year-old Maltipoo named Harley, but she’s much more camera shy!