Follow up -- dmn
Creative Thinking, Inc.
I began working for the family newspaper business at the Peru (IN) Daily Tribune in 1952 answering telephones providing basketball scores for the Indiana High School State Basketball Tournament.* I graduated to a home delivery carrier at the Wabash (IN) Plain Dealer from 1954-1956.
Throughout high school and college, I worked in various Plain Dealer departments as printer's devil, photographer, advertising inside classified sales, circulation and distribution delivery. After I graduated from Indiana University with a major in Economics and Mathematics in 1964, I began working full time as corporate secretary and treasurer and director for all the companies including Nixon Newspapers Benevolent Association, Inc.
In 1969, my US Army unit was ordered to Viet Nam. The order was canceled shortly after I had already hired and trained my replacement. At that time, three Indiana daily newspapers (Wabash, Peru and Michigan City) and one in Hammond, Louisiana, which was purchased in 1962, and the management partnership completed the organization.
At that time, the newspaper production process was changing from hot type metal to cold type and offset printing. The family decided to pursue growth by purchasing additional properties. In 1970, I helped negotiate purchase of the Frankfort Morning Times and Auburn Printing Company, which also published the Evening Star. I was publisher in Auburn. It was sold in 1972. I returned to the Wabash Plain Dealer as publisher. I also established Creative Thinking, Inc. for special projects.
To expand our Wabash and Peru printing capabilities, these weeklies were purchased or established:
The Swayzee Press,
Pulaski County Journal,
North Judson News,
TV Plus, a television channel guide for Indiana newspapers and several local high school and college publications.**
Indiana Racquet Sports (monthly)
Nixon Hoosier Feature Service****
To expand our content penetration, we built the Frankfort CATV franchise, which was later sold. Eventually we added these Indiana newspapers: New Castle, Brazil, Connersville, and in Illinois, Hoopston and Watseka
I was also a minor Kokomo Tribune partner and helped negotiate its sale to Thompson Newspapers in 1981. My mother’s grandfather was an original founder.
After Nixon Newspapers was sold in 1998 to Paxton Media and I created an Internet business model for schools, radio and television stations.
The backbone of newspaper revenue was display advertising from grocery, drug and local department stores like Sears and Penney’s. It also changed from rop (run of paper) advertising to free standing inserts, which we printed commercially. During my early career, I considered working for the New York Times as pinnacle of success, but later concluded it was better to provide a reliable local product to friends and neighbors.
And I measured success by subscription renewals. Every month to month comparison from year to year I was publisher, audited paid circulation increased.
An avid sports participant, I coached Tri State College’s soccer team in Angola when I was at Auburn and initiated girls high school teams in Indianapolis at Broad Ripple, Lawrence North, Hamilton Heights and Arlington, which had no team and was virtually all boys. *****
* (remember the movie Hoosiers)
** TV Plus provided listings which were accurate when Indiana had several counties with different broadcast times unique to that city
*** Portrait was feature length biography in tabloid format which was distributed and sold through the Kroger stores in Ohio and Indiana: subjects included: Jane Pauley, Merv Griffin, Ray Kroc
****Special news features were sold to other newspapers including Wabash Plain Dealer Reporter Earleen Early participating for Nixon’s Ping-pong diplomacy trip to China
*****When at Auburn the annual classic car reunion and swap meet plan to relocate was abandoned after the Evening Star encouraged and coordinated the Labor Day auction, which funded preservation of the old factory now a museum and still going strong after 50 years. (The plan was later used to create the Peru Circus City Festival, which is almost the same age and ongoing)
Here’s what people say:
From: Merv Hendricks (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Tue 11/11/08 12:13 PM
To: Don Nixon II (email@example.com)
Hi, dmn (been a while since I typed that),
Heard your message from earlier this morning.
It will be next week or the week after, though. I am tied up in editing and designing an 80th anniversary publication for the Hoosier State Press Association — you remember it — and I have until the weekend to finish a 64-page tab. I have 20 pages finished right now, so that tells you what I will be doing with my hours away from my day job this week and weekend. I have been so busy with stuff that I must admit that I have not even looked at the links you sent. I will, however, before we meet by phone and will share them with the group.
And while I have your eyes, Don, let me say that I never appreciated how good Nixon Newspapers was and how good you were as a publisher until some years after I was gone. My days in Wabash, as I look back with white hair, were the best of my career. Yes, I was in some ways a bigger dog in Terre Haute at the papers here, but it never was as much fun, it was never as good of a culture, it was never as positive a place as was Wabash. When I think about a paper being connected with its community, I think of Wabash in those days when NNI was in charge. I really felt that we in the PD newsroom — and the PD in every department -- got to know the community and appreciate it, even though we had a changing cast of characters.
I also know now, which I didn’t know then, how much you let us, encouraged us to effectively experiment. Take the Saturday tab for instance. You gave us a toy and let us play with it. That was gutsy, given that we were all pretty much 20-something snots.
I also recall what I call big ideas that you and Ray foisted upon us — the Sunday paper covering the ceremony of the Wabash light, Ray and Harold’s trip to the Jimmy Carter White House, the Jane Pauley tab, the Bicentennial edition, the 1979 anniversary edition, the Ray Kroc tab. That proved to me that it did not take a major metro to do major metro kinds of projects. Hard work — damn straight! — but rewarding, educational and, after the pain ceased, points of pride.
For all of that and more memories whose brain cells have died, I thank you, first. I thank your late, great dad. And as I often have, I thank Ray, who I generally call or e-mail on Sept. 15, the day I started at the PD (1976).
I regret I was not more appreciative at the time and that I was often a problem in my behavior. If I could take back anything in my professional life, it would not be mistakes or bad news judgments, it would be bad behavior. It’s a wonder I wasn’t fired over and over and over. I deserved it too many times. Thank you for your support.
I still have, BTW, notes you sent me, usually written in blue grease pencil if I recall correctly, complimenting the newsroom on one thing or another. Those are still meaningful and will stay in my files as long as I live.
More than you wanted to know, dmn, but I never could write short!
Peace, love and rock-and-roll,
and at the website link: (It’s what the folks on the time share listings category think of it.)
The time share link is: