When Dave Stanley was growing up in Newton, he hardly could have imagined the changes in store for the newspaper industry — or that he would one day traverse that change to become one of the elite members of his profession in Iowa.
Last Friday, during the Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest awards banquet, the owner and publisher of the New Hampton Tribune and Nashua Reporter received the INA’s highest honor: the Master Editor-Publisher Award. Surprisingly, he never saw it coming.
“I think right before they said my name, they said something about buying a paper in 2009 — right in the middle of recession,” Stanley said during an interview with Tribune editor Bob Fenske, “and I thought I was probably the only one who had been crazy enough to do that.”
His employees at the Tribune and Reporter, as well as his wife, Lori, and children, Kyle and Kayla, kept the award secret for roughly four months. The decision he would receive the award was made in October of last year.
He said the Master Editor-Publisher Award is about more than just his 30 years in the newspaper industry, though.
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of great people,”he said, “and the staff we have at the Tribune and Reporter is the best. I’d put them up against anyone.”
Stanley grew up in Newton and graduated from Newton Senior High School in 1979. After attending the DMACC Newton Campus, where he received an associate’s degree in business administration, he went to work in retail sales in Newton.
Stanley’s first job in the newspaper industry was as an advertising sales representative with the Daily News in 1983.
“In 1983, I had had enough of retail, and responded to an ad in the Newton Daily News looking for an advertising salesperson,” he said. “I was 23 years old, had a wife, and didn’t want to work nights and weekends. This was a job that was ‘9 to 5’ only on weekdays.”
Little did Stanley know he would soon get ink in his veins. Three years later, he was promoted to the position of advertising director. And, after 13 years in the business, he knew he was hooked.
“The day I left the Daily News was the hardest day of my life,” he said. “I know it was the right thing to do — to move on — because I learned a lot of different things. But, I never forgot where my roots were.”
In 1996, Stanley left the Daily News to become publisher of the Mitchell County Press-News in Osage. Three years later, Lee Enterprises bought the paper, along with the Forest City Summit and the Britt News Tribune. In 2003, he became publisher of all three weeklies.
But in the fall of 2009, during a round of budget cuts, Stanley’s position was eliminated.
“I say this over and over, but it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “It gave me the chance to strike out on my own.”
In December of that year, he purchased the Tribune from Gene Hall, and six months later, he bought the Nashua Reporter.
“There’s ups and downs in every job, but I can honestly say, I love coming to work,” he said. “No two days are alike, and at papers our size, you get to do so many things.”
Stanley remains active in selling advertising in both papers he owns, but he also shoots numerous photos and edits videos that appear on the Tribune’s web site.
“I still sell ads. I take pictures, too. I’m a very hands-on person. I work with my circulation people,” he said. “I post to the web, sell online ads ... I shovel sidewalks, clean the bathrooms, whatever needs to be done.”
Stanley said the newspaper industry is moving in a direction where those who are going to be successful need to know “just a little bit of everything, just enough to be dangerous.” He became the third publisher of the New Hampton Tribune to receive the Master Editor-Publisher Award.
The award is presented annually to Iowa newspaper professionals who are chosen by past award winners based on the following criteria:
• the nominee worked hard;
• the nominee thought soundly;
• the nominee has influenced unselfishly; and
• the nominee has lived honorably.
“It means a lot to me, and I’m humbled by it,” Stanley said. “I love newspapers and I love the variety of work I do at the Tribune and Reporter.”
INA Executive Director Chris Mudge said the honor was well deserved.
“Dave’s always been passionate about his newspapers,” she said, “and that shows through with his involvement with the Iowa Newspaper Association. He cares about our industry and wants it to thrive.”
Stanley is currently a member of the INA Board of Directors. He also is a past president of the INA Services Co. Board of Directors.
Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.