This issue, “10 Questions” checked in with Becky Justice-Hemmann, who with her son Robb Justice began the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor in 2004 in order to give the southern Larimer County community “a quality newspaper that would serve its subscribers.”
The weekly broadsheet was off and running with Robb as publisher and Becky working with “ads, page designing, bookkeeping and anything and everything else.” Robb left the business a few years ago to pursue other opportunities.
Becky lives in Loveland with her husband Rudy, who also works at the Surveyor as project manager and writes the Berthoud town beat. Here’s her take on her newspaper and her community:
1 – A lifelong entrepreneur and business owner in states including Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado, your background is primarily in sales and marketing. How did you decide that a newspaper was the next venture?
We fell into it through our other company, Media Innovations. We had been working with the Berthoud Chamber and they suggested we start a newspaper in Berthoud.
We looked at the existing paper and knew we could do better, put together a business plan, then went to potential advertisers with an advertising contract for the “To be named new Berthoud newspaper.” We had an amazing response, enough to know there would be sufficient revenue to start the paper. We hired our first editor, Jill Boyd, who was 23 at the time and fresh out of college with a degree from Colorado College. Jill grew up in Berthoud, was a Boettcher scholarship recipient, and knew everyone in town.
It gave us a great start.
2 – Media Innovations, LLC, begun in 2002, is a sales and marketing company providing businesses and nonprofits with marketing, public relations, publishing (newsletters, directories, magazines), website and graphic design services. How did that company get started, who staffs it, and how do you fit it into your busy schedule?
I was employed by the Loveland Reporter-Herald in their special publication department. We were publishing newsletters and directories for eight chambers and the Realtor association.
When the paper decided to close that department I asked for their support to take over the publications, which they granted. Robb was available to help and we started Media Innovations. Diane Wells, our sales account manager, and I run the company now. It fits in perfectly with the newspaper as so much of what both companies do is similar.
3 – You grew up in Colorado, went to Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and now live in Loveland. Have you lived, worked and run businesses in other Colorado cities and towns?
I lived on a 5,000-acre ranch near Bailey, Colo., for several years. I was a full-time mom at that time.
4 – On your BWS website, you encourage people to “Subscribe today to the only newspaper in the whole world that cares about the Berthoud area.” Who came up with that slogan and what do you do that makes that true?
That actually came from the Johnstown Breeze, I asked Matt (Lubich, co-owner and executive editor) if I could use it and he said yes. We are all about Berthoud, we rarely publish anything that isn’t specific to our town. We also focus on Larimer County.
5 – You recently began a two-year term on the Colorado Press Association Board of Directors and have said you wanted to be on the board because you are “not a journalist but have been in sales and marketing, so hopefully will bring new ideas to the table.” What will you work on first?
I have been assigned to the convention committee, so that is where I will focus. I have been involved in event planning in the past and really enjoy it.
6 – You have also been president of the board for the Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the Berthoud Economic Resource Team. What community organizations do you or the newspaper currently work with, and what are some ongoing projects?
We work with the Habitat for Humanity team, the Berthoud Historical Society, Parks & Recreation and the Berthoud Library primarily. I love kids and am happy that school has started again so we can write about Berthoud’s amazing kids.
7 – You and your newspaper were honored by the Berthoud Chamber as the Featured Monthly Investor in July 2015. The website mentioned your sponsorship of events in the city. Can you tell us more about that?
We sponsor all the major events in town: Berthoud Day, the annual quilt show, the Chamber golf tournament, and an authentic Oktoberfest, plus many more.
8 – The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor earned an Editorial Excellence Award and the General Excellence Award for Class II publications (for 27 awards in editorial and advertising categories) in the 2014 Colorado Press Association’s newspaper contest. That represents a lot of hard work. How significant is it to win the Excellence Awards?
It’s an amazing honor and I give the credit to our editor, John Gardner. He came on board three years ago and has really made a difference in our storytelling. We also have great string writers, some that have been with us for many years. They were already great writers, John helped make them even better!
9 – Can you name your top three mentors, in or out of journalism, and how they influenced you?
Since my background has been primarily in sales I have been privileged to hear some of the best in the sales training arena: Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar and Rita Davenport, to name a few.
10 – Neat desk or not, and what would we see there?
Pictures of my grandchildren (four delightful girls), their artwork, piles of paper everywhere, some neat, some not, coffee, maybe breakfast …