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A ‘disruptive but necessary’ force: Jacobson named Member of the Year

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Bryce Jacobson was 8 years old when he began delivering newspapers for The Journal Advocate in Sterling, his hometown. The predawn job introduced Jacobson to the newspaper’s circulation desk, a department he’d manage by the age of 20.

Those early days in circulation provided Jacobson, now 40 and publisher of The Greeley Tribune, with a perspective that’s shaped his career. He delivered newspapers on foot through shin-high snow. He consoled readers who couldn’t afford their bills. He marveled at the symbiosis between advertising, news and press departments. He understood a newspaper’s relationship to its community; he knew subscribers by name.

He fell in love with the product.

“I was able to experience hard work one day and harder work the day after,” Jacobson said. He added, “In circulation you get to see all the departments and all the hard work it takes to get it to come together…. I was very lucky to have grown up in the circulation side of the business. I was able to experience so much of our business from that amazing perspective.”

In April, Jacobson was named Colorado Press Association Member of the Year during the CPA’s annual convention in Colorado Springs. The award was a testament to Jacobson’s passion for community journalism, his vision for the industry’s future and his ethos honed in circulation.

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Jacobson joined The Greeley Tribune as advertising director in 2013 after seven years as publisher of The Craig Daily Press. He was named publisher of The Tribune in 2016. His colleagues describe him as a “disruptive but necessary” force.

Jacobson has diversified the newspaper’s operations, expanding event production and niche publishing, as well as digital advertising and marketing services. He’s steadily grown The Tribune’s digital advertising returns and has doubled special publication revenue.

“We started working on diversifying our channels from the day I arrived here,” Jacobson said. “At the time of my arrival, The Tribune and Swift Communications had already made huge progress in the digital space and we had a couple events that had been running 20-plus years. We started expanding both of those product lines from the day I arrived. We added niche publishing a few months down the road with a targeted publication, Energy Pipeline.”

Energy Pipeline, an industry-focused magazine, was launched in 2013. It’s distributed through print, online and e-mail. Energy Pipeline has found an engaged audience and generated new revenue.

“While so many in the business were talking about the need to diversify revenue streams away from a dependency on print advertising, Bryce just went out and did it,” said Bart Smith, former Greeley Tribune publisher and general manager.

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Jacobson has also expanded his role within Swift Communications, The Tribune’s parent company. He leads Swift’s Circulation Operations Team, which is tasked with reader growth and retention for the company’s paid circulation newspapers in Colorado, Nevada and California. Jacobson has also overseen Swift’s move into two centralized advertising layout and support centers in Greeley and Carson City, Nev.

CPA convention judges applauded the scope of Jacobson’s work.

“Bryce clearly is a leader with skills and a passion for all areas of the newspaper business,” read a judge’s comment. “Without a doubt he is making a difference in his own newspapers statewide, regionally and nationally.”

Jacobson is most proud of the difference he makes in Greeley. He was recently named Greeley Chamber of Commerce board chairman after completing a term as president of the local Kiwanis chapter. He’s also a single father raising two children. Jacobson is a familiar face at his kids’ golf matches and volleyball games. He’s known to duck out of the office in the afternoon to catch a match and then work into the evening at home to make up the time.

Reflecting on his still-young career, Jacobson credits much of his success to those early years spent in circulation. His department head in Sterling, a Mr. Harley, served as Jacobson’s first newspaper mentor.

“He didn’t give me a pass,” Jacobson said. “He made me work with customers to find a resolution to their bill, to their expectation for the location and time of delivery, of their connection to the world – the news and information that makes such a big difference to them.”

Jacobson has come to embody those lessons.

“I do not know an individual that is more dedicated to the mission of community journalism and our role to positively impact the lives in the communities we serve,” said Robert Brown, president of Swift Communications.

Much like the young man who marveled at the newspaper-making process in Sterling, Jacobson is impressed by what his team creates each day.

“My passion for this industry comes from my infatuation with the product,” he said. “I humbly look at our print product every day and I am just amazed by the great work that our team does on a daily basis. I read our digital product and I am enamored by the engagement that our audience has with each other and with our content producers.”

Jacobson is the second Greeley Tribune employee in the past three years to win Member of the Year. In 2015, Tribune Editor Emeritus Randy Bangert received the award. The late Bangert was a member of the 2018 CPA Hall of Fame inductees.