Josh Peterson started at The Manchester Times as a stringer for sports when he was 19 years old. At 23 years old, he received an email from the editor, asking him to replace her.
“I said, ‘Are you sure you meant to send that to me?’” he recalls, laughing.
He was named the editor four years after beginning at the paper part-time.
“I was extremely excited to have that opportunity at such a young age,” he said. “You retain things, you learn on the fly. You learn a lot at that age.”
His rise to power didn’t stop at editor. He took over as publisher at age 29. Having achieved so much at an early age made Josh an ideal candidate for NAA’s Top 30 Under 30 Awards Program.
Being publisher has a different feel, he says. He is more involved in the advertising and revenue side of the business, though he still enjoys sticking his nose into sports.
Now, as a young publisher, he feels a sense of duty and responsibility to his readers and the town. He was shocked at the impact every single printed word had on the community. He aims to be meticulous in how the paper looks, so when his loyal readers comb through it, they don’t call him about typos.
In his office, the first publication of The Times hangs on the wall.
“This paper is far bigger than me,” he says. It is going on its 136th year of publication. Peterson says many great people made the paper go before him, and after him.
“I want to be a good placeholder,” he said. “I don’t want to be the guy 70 years from now that messed up the paper… I want to help take the paper forward and make it strong for another 135 years.”
As part of making it stronger, he started the Press Pass program.
“I can’t take credit for the idea originally, I’m an idea thief,” he says. “I see ideas I like and I cater them to how they’ll fit in our market.”
With Press Pass, an ad runs in the paper, listing the 19 businesses and a particular deal they have, at no cost to the businesses. If they are a partner, the deal must be exclusive to The Times subscribers.
“We want the businesses to offer something that benefits the subscribers, where they get deals nobody else in town can get,” Peterson said. “It’s been a good way to show businesses to believe in what the paper has to offer.”
His biggest goal is to find a way to have print and web coexist productively. He wants to discover a way to give print subscribers something not online. The online content serves as an outlet for daily news.
“We want to be quick and accurate online, but to dig to the next level, ask one more question, and take that print product and make it where it delivers what nobody else can. You have to get it from us. We want to do it better than everybody.”