Time to Expand

The Milton Times is creating a local phone book.

Phil Perry, our advertising coordinator, will be handling the gathering of information. Phil is particularly suited for this task, having roots in the community and an ability to listen deeply.

Our graphics designer, William Curry, is working on developing a map of the town that will fit on the pullout flap. William is also tasked with creating the front page, which will be a glossy full color page that will have information about the contents. This year we aren’t planning to sell any ads on the cover – we need the residents to understand this book is all about their community.

Last week we sent a mailing out to all the businesses in town with information about our little telephone  book. There is interest in the book – especially from business owners who use a cell phone as their work number and from home-based businesses.

Most of the prime locations sold even before the mailing hit the streets.

But now the real work begins for me as I gather ad copy (and checks).

People ask how this is different. And I have my reply ready. First this is just Milton. Not Canton. Not Stoughton. Not tiny type like the Verizon book. Next we are printing 10,000 copies and having it delivered to the 9,800 Milton addresses. The last time the Lawrence-based telephone book company did town-wide distribution was in 2002. (But we know Indian Cliffs got a 2009 book.)

We want this book to work for the entire community.

But people keep asking me, why is the Milton Times doing this now even after I have explained there is a need for a good local phone book.

And they are right, there is another reason.  The local economy hit a plateau in 2009. Our small business needs a way to break the stranglehold of a choking economy.

Nearly 30 years ago I worked at Mariner Newspapers, which was then headquartered in Marshfield. It was a newspaper chain created by David Cutler, whose parents started the Duxbury Clipper. David ran his business on a shoestring thanks to a staff that loved what they were doing.

Whenever the economy delivered a slow season, David started a new venture. It was an amazing lesson. He sold the Mariner papers in the late 1980s to a major corporation. And they’ve been sold a few times since. David is still involved in the newspaper business, having inherited the Clipper and parlayed his own money into backing a small daily near Worcester and a few tiny weeklies in New Hampshire.

The business model I have implimented at the Milton Times is the one I learned from David. “Local, local, local,” he would say. “Some say parochial as if it were a bad word but people want local news. They want to know about their local community.”

It is a lesson any community newspaper does well to remember. Thank you, David.