We are locally owned, locally operated and community focused.
the419 is a community magazine covering Lima and Allen County, Ohio. We publish weekly, and update our website daily. the419 is unique in that we offer a wide range of entertaining features not found in other local media. We share the best of our community, from our evolving downtown to must-see shows and exhibitions, to city development, to the entrepreneurs and leaders shaping the future of our community.
An Interview with the419 publisher Stephen C. Johnson
Q. Start With Why?
A. It’s a book by Simon Sinek that inspired me when we were creating the419. He wrote, “[p]eople don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” This idea shaped our approach to the authenticity and leadership of the419. Our Why? We are locally owned, locally operated, and community focused. We will deliver community-focused news and provide the arts and non-profits a platform to share news and events. This community deserves its own voice; their own platform for community conversations, events and celebrations.
Q. Why start the419 when the future of the newspaper industry is so uncertain?
A. While you can read the419 online daily in the digital format, we still find an audience here that would like to read in print in the foreseeable future.
Q. Did you choose the title of the419 to cover the area code?
A. Not necessarily. We wanted to have a name that wasn’t just a traditional newspaper name but more of an attitude. We will be published weekly and read online daily, more of a magazine format than a newspaper. We will strive to inform and entertain with professional editorial reporting and photography. This market is already well served for national and world news by other media, therefore, we will not attempt to duplicate this information and maintain our focus on local and state news.
Q. What will be your editorial philosophy?
A. We will be a conservative publication but always offer a pro / con discussion regarding community issues and conversations. A newspaper can often be the lens of a community and how it is viewed outside the community and we believe we can assist with that vision.
Q. Do you think the419 will be successful?
A. Yes, we believe we will be successful but it will be up to the community to decide what level of success with their subscriptions and advertising. Our staff consists of some of the most talented individuals from our community and I have no doubt we will produce a quality product.
Q. What makes you different from other media?
A. We see us as complementing the other media here with a product that entertains and also informs readers of community news and not just to duplicate the news. Our magazine format allows for a crisp layout and fresh design.
Q. Did you have any reservations about starting a weekly?
A. Yes, but will guess any entrepreneur startup has risks to overcome. There is only one chance to get it done right, so there are a lot of moving parts to consider that keep you awake at night.
Q. Your career has been with large metro newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and as national sales director for USA Today. How will you adapt to a smaller market?
A. I have been fortunate to work with several well-known newspapers and media companies, but I have also served as President and CEO of the Penn-Ohio, Strategic Marketing Group, which consisted of six community newspapers, a weekly publication and a magazine division. So, I feel very much attuned to a community newspaper in any form, including a weekly.
Q. I understand you are going to have a 4-H feature?
A. Yes, we believe 4-H serves us well as a community needs more of a platform to inform the regional community of their activities and news year-round, not just during Junior Fair. We will offer them column space at no charge as part of a community service.
Q. Tell me about some of the features you will offer.
A. We will have several rotating columns, including: Founding Fathers which celebrates the families that built our community; a Thank You For Your Service feature to recognize our veterans past and present and a His & Hers page which will offer a fun take on gender-specific topics; and many more. I should add that we will have several pages of comics, puzzles and games, including a crossword and bridge column.
Q. I see you have a plaque on your wall about newspapers.
A. Yes, it is a favorite of mine. The publisher of the Los Angeles Times gave me a plaque that said “…were it left up to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” It was a quote from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson on January 16, 1787 to Colonel Edward Carrington.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
A. We would like to invite every-one to visit the419.com. Cheers!