‘We started our relationship with the newspaper as avid readers’
April 5, 2016
Washington Park Profile
casting a hyperlocal lens on a micro
By Teri Saylor
Special to Publishers’ Auxiliary
Jill Farschman has had a varied and exciting career as a corporate training director, a nonprofit organization executive and a communication director, but she believes she has found her dream job as publisher of the Washington Park Profile, a Denver monthly newspaper she and her husband, Jay, bought about a year ago.
“We started our relationship with the newspaper as avid readers,” she said in a recent phone conversation.
“And being readers was the best foundation possible to become the owners and publishers.”
Farschman was transitioning out of her previous job working with an outsources HR company and wondering what her next act would be when a friend introduced her to Paul Kashmann, the Profile’s publisher. Kashmann, who started the Profile in 1978, was ready to sell.
A district councilman in Denver, Kashmann had nurtured the newspaper for 36 years, and was a prolific writer.
As a new owner, Farschman relies on a small staff and an army of freelance writers, focusing her time on the business end of publishing.
The newspaper is tabloid-sized and printed on 35-pound high bright newsprint in full color throughout. It averages 32 pages each month and is distributed free from 330 news racks across town. When Farschman bought the Profile, the distribution was 16,500 copies. During the past year, she has increased distribution to 18,500.
The newspaper hits the racks the first Friday of each month.
To say the Washington Park Profile is hyperlocal is an understatement. Its narrow focus centers on the neighborhoods within a five-mile radius of Washington Park, a large city park, located three miles southeast of downtown Denver—population 650,000.
“We are hyperlocal in a micro community,” Farschman explained. “We are more successful operating this way than by trying to spread ourselves too thin.”
The Profile serves an educated, affluent Denver demographic. Covering a small territory, the newspaper serves a dense population of readers and an eclectic variety of local businesses eager to reach customers in their own neighborhood.
“We cover issues of interest to our neighbors,” Farschman said. “We write about average rent costs, zoning, historic property designations, crime and safety, property development, and other topics of interest to our readers, just like most newspapers.”
The Profile also covers culture, politics, art and entertainment.
Publishing monthly allows the Profile to cover these issues in depth, and the team of freelancers provides a variety of voices and points of view.
“Breaking news is not our thing, but we will take breaking news and do a significant piece on it,” Farschman said. “We plan ahead for investigative pieces, and write thorough stories we can hang our hats on.”
Farschman recognizes that to serve the local community, it is important to build the right team internally, and foster the right culture.
“We have each other’s back,” she said. “Externally, we do everything in our power to buy locally, and support our merchants.”
Washington Park is an urban oasis for recreation and fun. A network of footpaths and bike trails offer pedestrians and cyclists a route to spectacular vistas where the Rocky Mountains are in full view. The park is home to the largest flower garden in Denver.
The historic Washington Park neighborhood features a number of small commercial districts and corner store sectors.
“Our area has wonderful restaurants, great shops and wonderful services, including mechanics—all within walking distance of each other,” Farschman said. “Every day, we come face to face with our neighborhood retailers.”
Local ad agencies are part of the neighborhood landscape, and Farschman has forged relationships with them, too. The Profile’s small, classified advertising section serves as a kind of service directory, and overall, the newspaper has built up a collection of loyal advertisers.
“We have people who have been advertising regularly in the paper since the 1980s,” she said.
The Profile’s website features dynamic content, according to Farschman.
“Our online service directory is searchable, our physical location is GIS-located, and we have effective search engine optimization,” she said. “We drive business to our local advertisers—to their websites, and to their doorsteps.”
Because the newspaper is a free-distribution publication, all online content is open and available to readers. Farschman bundles print and online advertising. Clients cannot buy one without the other. She uses Facebook to build an engaged readership.
Will Farschman ever increase the newspaper’s frequency and publish more often than once a month?
“I have admiration for people who publish daily,” she said. “But I really like publishing monthly. The advertisers like it because they like the longevity of each issue and going more frequently is not on the roadmap. We have about 10,000 other things we need to do first.”
Name of newspaper: Washington Park Profile.
Owners: Jill and Jay Farschman.
How long have you owned the Profile? My husband and I purchased the paper in February 2015.
What is your publication schedule? We publish monthly on the first Friday unless that falls on the 6th or later, in which case we come out the week prior.
What is your newspaper’s motto? Digital and print community newspaper, founded in 1978.
How many employees do you have? We have two employees. The remainder of our team is comprised of freelancers.
What is the most rewarding aspect of publishing a community newspaper? We are the catalyst for community building, serving local entrepreneurial merchants and neighborhoods.
What are your biggest challenges? Maintaining editorial integrity when caving to advertorial would be much easier. Passing up lucrative marijuana advertising.
How does covering the news as a monthly publication differ from how you would cover the news as a daily or weekly newspaper? We are able to take time with story development because we’re not under the same deadline constraints, but the downside is it takes a lot of effort to create a “scoop” because of our expanded lead time.
What are your newspaper’s most distinguishing characteristics? We’ve been thriving since 1978 with a fanatically loyal readership and advertising base.
What do you see as your newspaper’s main role? Covering hyperlocal news of interest to readers in our coverage map via high quality editorial, while driving business to the doorsteps and websites of our local advertisers.