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Segueway to Success

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By: Brent Hamachek and Tom Kuchan

Our “Segueway to Success” show, talking about our blog, airs each Wednesday at 15:00 CST.  Find today’s show and the archives on our web site:


“I was eight years old, runnin’ with a dime in my in my hand;

to the bus stop to pick up the paper for my old man”

From “My Hometown” Bruce Springsteen


Newspapers have a tradition in the United States that goes back before our birth as a nation.  The first regular daily newspaper printed in the Colonies was the Boston News-Letter and it commenced on April 24, 1704.  Apparently one of the big stories during its early run was the reporting of the death of Blackbeard the Pirate in hand to hand combat.  American interests have changed little over the centuries.

Newspapers grew in influence in America over time playing a significant role in the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and Theodore Roosevelt’s “trust busting” initiatives to name a few household examples.  The editorial pages of both large city and local newspapers had much to do with shaping the consciousness of American citizens.  Indeed, the New Deal of FDR may have turned out quite differently absent the support of some major editorial boards.

With the rise to power of William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) and his print empire, anchored in the newspaper industry, journalistic sensationalism came into play.  Hearst crossed the line between simply reporting or commenting on news and entered into the world of creating and outright fabricating news.  As is the case with many iconic figures and extremely powerful people the legend of the man far outstripped his actual greatness and his imprint on the world of journalism, not for the good, has never lifted.

Segueway principals grew up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s when newspapers enjoyed immense popularity.  For kids it began with the Sunday “funnies” and migrated to the daily crossword puzzle.  Sunday newspapers were half-day destinations with all their feature sections and, at least for some, the interesting celebrity questions on the inside cover of Parade magazine.

For one Segueway principal, there is the distinct memory of his father calling home a half hour before he would leave work, mom putting a pitcher of martinis in the freezer and having the evening newspaper ready for him on his chair.  Conversation with dad was not really permitted until he had read the paper (and had that first martini).

So how lame does all this seem to a generation today that gets it news the same way this post is being typed – from a small high definition screen, a scrolling mouse and a few keystrokes?  They would likely laugh at people who said they missed the feel of black ink on their hands after reading the sports section.  Couldn’t imagine having to say “excuse me” to the person on the train next to them as they folded out their pages.  It is a different time.  Fewer and fewer newspapers seen; more and more “notebooks” present.  Progress!

Or is it?

Anyone who paid attention to their parents lamenting that the Beatles (or the Rolling Stones) were the end of civilization are mindful if they are careful not to confuse nostalgic feeling for the foreshadowing of the apocalypse.  I am certain there is risk in that because, for example, if the Beatles had never come along we likely would not have the E Street Band and that would have been a tragedy for humanity.

Nonetheless, the movement away from traditional newspapers to electronic media for news delivery feels just a bit wrought with peril.  People rave about how anyone now can be a journalist and post news and what a wonderful competitive balance that brings into the market.  Does it?  Just because anyone can write doesn’t mean anyone has anything worth writing.  The checks and balances that a complete news organization can bring to the reporting process theoretically leads to integrity of product.  The news that came from a printed paper was slow compared to the pace with which it appears today but that slower, deliberate process also provide a mechanism to heighten accuracy and reflection (Dewey Defeats Truman notwithstanding).

Sadly, it seems that the printed newspapers have to a large degree yielded on integrity in order to compete with the new electronic media.  The New York Times is a ghost of what it once was as a true newspaper and you will not find anyone to disagree with that who does not also watch MSNBC.

This isn’t offered as a means to suggest that electronic media is bad and everyone needs to keep bundles of papers horded in their attics or in the bottom of their bird’s cages in order to save the Republic.  It is to suggest that progress, like magic, comes with a price.  In this case as internet content promulgates news information are we learning more or just seeing more?  Did the deliberate act of sitting down and folding out the pages of a newspaper, hopefully compiled by trained, committed professionals, have some intrinsic value?

Bob Newhart once joked that if you take an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters they would eventually type all the classics.

They’re working on it.


Join Brent and Tom on Wednesday, May 15, as they continue their discussion from last week’s show with Elliot Silber and Mimika Papavasiliou from What’s Happening! Community Newspapers.  This week they’ll be talking about what Elliot and Mimika are seeing and hearing on the ground in the small business communities where they operate and network.

Segueway Solutions –

+1 (847) 778-9474

Brent E. Hamachek spent the first 15 years of his professional life in banking, working in 6 different sectors including audit, credit and 9 years as a commercial banker.

After commercial banking, Brent formed Segueway Solutions in 2000 in order to assist privately held companies in transition. To date, he has worked in 40 different industries and has served in the capacity of CEO, CFO & EVP Sales for clients. Brent is a sought after consultant, speaker and trainer offering national and foreign expertise to clients.

Tom Kuchan is a proven leader in global business expansion and effectiveness, risk management, finance and operations with experience in both Fortune 50 and entrepreneurial environments. He has a proven record of defining strategic objectives, translating them into operational tasks, and leading their implementation in diverse geographies and cultures across the globe.

Tom has lived overseas for over twenty years, including Switzerland, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, and has worked extensively across Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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