Power Snapped Up

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Veteran sports reporter is
new GM of Snap magazine

Don Power is the new General Manager of Snap magazine.

Power is one of the best sports reporters in the province, with an encyclopedic memory for sports trivia. He has great journalistic instincts, and seems to be on a first-name basis with everyone.

Snap magazine is relatively new in this market; a free tabloid that features photographs and captions, and not much else. Well, it does contain advertising thats how it stays in business. The paper is a national franchise that has been around since 2005. It launched a St. Johns edition in July 2008.

Powers appointment became effective September 1. His first week on the job was spent in Newmarket, Ontario, for training in how to manage and market the paper.

After that, I hit the ground running, Power said, in an interview. Right now, I am just covering the market, telling a lot of people what Im doing now. I just drop by with a paper and a business card, and explain that Im taking over the publication. A lot of people know me already, so that helps.

Power is not kidding about that. He is an old school journalist, of the Gerry Phelan or Cecil Haire ilk. In other words, he is solid, dependable and an all-round nice fellow. At some time or other, Power has worked with The Telegram, The Sunday Express, The Express, CBC Radio, Here and Now and The Independent. He has more connections than Newfoundland Power.

Snap is a one-person operation, which puts Power in charge of photography, booking events, sales and marketing, administration and washing his own coffee cup. From working at The Express, which was a small paper, Im used to wearing a lot of hats, Power said. Its different for me, because Im used to separating the editorial and the advertising, and now its all blended into one.

Power does have help with layout, which is performed by the creative department at Snaps head office in Newmarket. They send me pdf files of the paper, I proof it, and send back the changes. They print it and everything, and send it back to me, ready for distribution, by the first of the month.

Ive seen several editions of Snap and found its photo-spread formula too predictable for my liking. It features page after page of people, at an endless variety of community events, all smiling for the camera. You can browse a typical copy in a matter of minutes, pausing to read the caption when you recognize a face. But its really not my cup of tea.

That said, the Snap formula has succeeded in other markets, and seems to be doing okay here. It is founded upon a principle of journalism that I learned from my father, Ken Meeker, who heard it from the late Jim Thoms: Names make the news. Or, in this case, faces with names in the captions.

I asked Power if he had any leeway to shake up the mix, by blending in slightly longer text features or even more artfully composed photos, where people are not necessarily smiling for the camera.

I asked that very question at the training, Power said. Im always looking for diversity in pictures, because Im in newspapers 23 years and youre always looking for something thats eye-catching. But their philosophy is, they want people smiling at the camera. It implies consent yes, you can take my picture and heres my name and lets fill it with people. Its a good news newspaper. The style that you see in the paper now is the style they want.

Its a formula that is paying off for Snap, which now has 82 franchisees in place or in development across Canada, with inroads being made in the U.S. and Italy. Recently, the company was ranked by Profit magazine at number 34 in its list of emerging growth companies in Canada.

In an era where newspaper circulation is declining, its interesting that Snap newspapers are on the rise, Power said. Its an interesting concept, it really is.

Power said many people especially community-based organizations and charities are unaware of the community service offered by Snap. He said event organizers can use the Snap St. Johns web site to submit their events and arrange coverage. There is no charge for this service.

Its easy to do, Power said. You can even specify the best time for the photographer to show up.

The web site also offers an extensive gallery of photos from back issues of the paper. I have to admit, its difficult to browse these directories without getting pulled in. A person could fritter away many hours clicking through these images.

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  • Andrew
    July 27, 2010 - 14:54

    I'll wish him well, but I find it sad a talented writer in today's media market has to work for a publication like Snap. I'd sometimes have a gander at it when I lived in Halifax, and it always looked like a waste of paper.