Newspaper man not ready to give up on industry he loves

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2012
Julian Smith
OTAGO DAILY TIMES
INK IN HIS VEINS: Otago Daily Times managing director Julian Smith is confident the newspaper industry will survive despite the doom merchants.

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Rumours of the newspaper industry's demise have been greatly exaggerated, according to the publishing magnate who has become one of New Zealand's newest knights.

Allied Press managing director Julian Smith, publisher of the Otago Daily Times, has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for services to business.

Smith, the great-great-grandson of Otago newspaper owner George Bell, took control of the company in 1986, and has kept the Otago Daily Times running as an independently-owned morning daily newspaper.

He was president and chairman of the Newspaper Publishers' Association from 2002 to 2006, and chairman of the New Zealand Press Association on two separate occasions.

Smith said his family's five-generation association with the newspaper industry had played an important role in how he ran the publishing company.

"From my point of view, the way we were brought up, it's always been about putting something back in and supporting the community."

The newspaper's independent status allowed it to focus on the best interests of its readers and the Otago region, he said.

"The resources that are put into the business come from people in the area, and everything made from the business will stay in the area, so . . . we do what's right for the paper and for the region."

Smith said he still had faith in the newspaper industry and believed there was too much "doom and gloom" about its future.

The internet was "just another tool" for newspapers and did not mean print editions had to come to an end, he said.

"The basic model remains sound: advertisers are getting results, and readers are getting what they want." Smith, a former president of the Otago Chamber of Commerce and Otago Commerce Club, said dairying remained the "backbone" of the region and tourism had become a growing opportunity for businesses.

Smith said he was confident that the Otago Daily Times would remain financially successful, and he had no plans to throw in the towel as managing director.

"I'd be very happy to be able to retire, but I don't see that as being an option just yet," he said.

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