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The Denmark News celebrates two years with Nelson Media Company

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Lead Summary

Publisher reflects on anniversary

By Jacob Heiser
The Denmark News

This week, The Denmark News is celebrating an important milestone. July 1st marked two years since Nelson Media Company purchased our hometown newspaper, and what a two years it has been. To commemorate this anniversary, we spoke with Nelson Media Company owner and founder and the publisher of The Denmark News--Chris Nelson--to learn more about why he bought the paper, changes he has made and what is next for the publication.

For those who do not know, for two years now, The Denmark News has been owned and operated as part of Nelson Media Company which was founded in August of 2020 by Denmark native and DHS class of 2003 graduate Chris Nelson. When asked about his memories of The Denmark Press during his formative years he responded:

 "I was lucky enough to grow up around The Denmark Press.  My Grandma, Joanne Leiterman, was the administrative assistant and classifieds assistant; and several of my aunts, including Cindy Thompson, were heavily involved in the paper.  In fact, Cindy was Mr. Woods' right-hand "man".  The Press did a great job involving local sports, news, and entertainment into the paper.  I was in the paper for so many reasons (just like all kids were my age): little league, sports growing up, winning a bike at McDonald's, moving to Denmark in 1992, taking second in the geography bee, and much more.  I looked forward to going down to Krause's every Thursday to get The Denmark Press for my mom for $0.25."

After leaving his career as a TV meteorologist, Nelson set out to establish his own video production and marketing company which was founded as the Nelson Media Company in 2020. This year, he founded The Chris Nelson Company as a parent company to The Denmark News, five other papers and his video production and marketing firm. He says he had always been interested in news and weather and enjoyed writing for the newspaper while working as a meteorologist. This interest would lead to a new sector of Nelson Media Company in the local newspaper industry. When asked the exact reasonings behind the purchase, Nelson explains:

"Growth opportunities and a different sector to enter for Nelson Media Company.  Plus, I didn't want to see The Denmark News get into a situation where The Denmark Press was back in the 2000s.  Gannett's purchase sent many small-town papers down the tubes.  Having a local owner who cares about the community is paramount to having a successful community paper.  It was my way of giving back to the village that helped raise me.  Even though I haven't lived in Denmark for 15+ years, it's still near and dear to my heart.  My parents still live here, and much of my family resides nearby."

Once Nelson had negotiated the purchase with the paper's former publisher, JC Marquez, he immediately went about making the paper his own. When asked what changes he had implemented since purchasing the publication, Nelson responded:

"We had to make this a local paper again, and we needed a digital option.  Day one, we added a website and an app to make sure all ages can read the newspaper.  I am still in the old-school thought of preferring a newspaper or book in-hand versus on technology.  However, it is needed for the digital adults that are growing up on ipads, computers, and cell phones. The second important piece of making our newspaper return to what it was: making sure everything was local.  We hired Jacob, and Pam worked more hours helping "man" the desk.  Jacob has been instrumental in covering all of our local events and being an ambassador for his paper.  If you ask Jacob, he came in very green and has turned into a paper vet quickly.  I have been impressed with his journalistic acumen and ability to find stories people can connect with every week.  Pam worked at the paper before I purchased it.  Without her managing the office, all of our hard work couldn't be done.  She is truly the boss of the office. Another subtle change in the last six months is hiring Danielle Potnoack as the paper's graphic designer.  If you haven't noticed a change in the paper's layout, look at last year vs. this year.  It's a remarkable change!"

After two years, Nelson believes The Denmark News is succeeding, stating:

"The paper is running itself now.  We have been incredibly blessed with Pam, Jacob, and Danielle working hard every week, and we have Alex submitting Denmark History articles.  Our digital hits in readership continue to climb and increase every month, and our subscriptions, even with deaths in the community, are steady and even rising.  I can't thank our employees and the community enough."

As for why a local paper is important, Nelson explains:

"Have you noticed daily papers in larger cities? They have decreased in size and in subscriptions.  Why?  They blame it on a changing business, I challenge them on those facts.  We will need a newspaper today, tomorrow and in the future.  If you ever have someone tell you newspapers are a dying business, ask them how they're going to see their young adults and kids in the paper showing off their events in journalistic fashion.  People, families, and invested community members will always want to see an organized paper in their towns.  It will always be important!"

Nelson says there are still several changes instore for the short-term stating:

"Our beloved Kelly has retired from sports.  He could have retired years ago, and we were lucky he stayed around for as long as he did.  We will be on the lookout for a new sports reporter.  He is a huge person to fill with his wisdom and years of experience. 

Additionally, NMC has acquired The Winneconne News.  We will be hiring a full-time advertising manager who will help in both newspapers."

When it comes to the long-term, Nelson hopes to stick to what has always made local newspapers successful and essential, explaining:

"For me personally, it's always looking ahead to what's new and how we can keep our readers, subscribers, and advertisers happy.  It's all about continuing to cover special events, holding the powerful accountable, and showcasing our community as the best it can be through the news wires.  Adobe is coming out with a lot of new AI technology where laying out papers is becoming easier.  In the artificial intelligence world, you have to be careful on what is being produced for content.  We will never take away human writer vs. chatgpt writing to help a profit margin.  I am here as an owner to make sure we have the best newspaper we can produce; I know Jacob, Pam, Danielle, and others behind the scenes agree. Overall, as a company, we will look at building what we have as a video production and marketing business, hopefully continuing to expand into Wisconsin.  We have had discussions in purchasing more newspapers and even entering the entertainment industry."

In closing, Nelson wished to once again recognize The Denmark News readers and staff expressing:

"It's cliche to say thank you to our readers, followers, subscribers, and advertisers, but thank you.  If you want to thank anyone at The Denmark News, next time you see Jacob and Pam, thank them for their hard work.  Do they get paid for their work? Yes.  But they go above and beyond for this newspaper.  I thank them and appreciate both of them more than they'll ever know."

Thank you to a supportive and grateful community. Here's to many more years to come of hyperlocal news coverage.

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