Sharon Richman



Editor and Publisher

20 OVER 50

Owner and CEO, Electric Valley Media with two publications: Shawangunk Journal in Ellenville, New York and Kingston Wire in Kingston, New York First job in news: My first job in the news business was starting the Ellenville Journal, later renamed the Shawangunk Journal. The fact is that I wanted a good local news source, and my new hometown didn’t have one. My background was in fine arts, mathematics and computer science, so I found strong partners to sell ads, edit and report, and I handled the backend. We’ve been blessed to have many extraordinary individuals, both under our employ and not, help us over the years. What are some of the most important lessons you have learned while working in news? The most important thing I’ve learned, bar-none, is to keep it local. That’s what our readers want, and that’s the content with the most impact. The second most important lesson we learned the hard way is money isn’t everything, but it’s always best to get paid upfront. When you reflect on your career to date, what brings you the greatest sense of accomplishment? The software powering our print and digital publications was a real game changer for us. We built it ourselves, and it provides us with monthly revenue growth through multiple products: subscriptions, per-article purchases using micropayments, sponsored content and advertising. I’m very proud of our forward-thinking while designing and implementing this new platform — The Atlantic profiled us and its innovations — and other publishers now use our system too. On a more personal note, I live in a very rural environment and hardly knew my new hometown when we started the paper. My kids were three and five-years-old back then, so I had to integrate the paper into my family life and vice versa. The paper provided my kids with untold experiences, such as meeting interesting people, starting their own high school newspaper and learning about their hometown — school, government, local businesses and so much more. Providing all that for my kids — and myself — while at the same time giving my community all the news it needs to thrive really does it for me. The work is fun, challenging, chaotic and fulfilling. Is that having it all? Despite the economic hardships, I say, “Yes!” What are your predictions for where news publishing/news media is heading? Coming from a computer science background, I often wonder why it took so long to start our digital offering. But our hard paywall could never have worked back in 2009; nobody would pay for news back then. Finally, it is a huge part of our budget — people are happy to pay for quality local news. But with ad revenue declining and young people obsessing about social media, philanthropy is where news media is heading. We ran a successful fundraiser this year, and I see that being necessary every year. As long as we remain relevant, trustworthy and credible, we will survive.