Mei-Mei Chan (pronounced “Me, Me”), president and publisher of The News Press Media Group, told her “Coming to America” success story to the 72 Press Club of Southwest Florida members and guests in attendance at the January 23 luncheon meeting at the Hilton Naples.
“Destinations are important,” said Chan, “but the journeys are of more significance.”
She was born in Campon, China, and moved with her family to Hong Kong when she was five years old. They immigrated to America in 1967 and settled in Chicago, where other family members lived. “My parents came from nothing and had nothing,” she said, “but they believed that America was the Land of Opportunity, and that was enough.” Typically, daughters were not educated in China, but her mom had gone to school and argued with her dad for Mei-Mei to be able to go to college. Her parents were so proud of her when she graduated from the University of Illinois, and they are proud of Mei-Mei’s daughter, who graduated from law school in 2011. Her parents live with Chan’s family in Estero.
Gannett named Chan president and publisher of The News-Press Media Group in 2010. She came to Florida from Seattle, where she had been the vice president of advertising for The Seattle Times Company. She started her career as a reporter at the Commercial-News in Danville, IL, in 1981, helped launch USA TODAY in 1982 and was an associate editor at USA WEEKEND. Last August, Chan was named the Florida president for Gannett, overseeing the Tallahassee Democrat, Pensacola News-Journal and Florida Today in Brevard, in addition to The News-Press.
Chan told the NPC members that The News-Press has a proud history of 130 years of publishing without missing a day! It’s a home-town source with multimedia content–the daily paper, a news app, magazine and Facebook. It’s the largest manufacturer in Lee County. “The News-Press is a local paper and a regional paper,” Chan stated. “We try to strike a balance between local and national (sports, in particular) with an 8-page USA TODAY section in each day’s publication. We tell the story by connecting, reflecting, challenging and leading, and our digital products aren’t limited geographically.”
“Some days are exhausting,” Chan said, “and some days are exhilarating. We work on providing engaging content throughout the day, and we realize that some people are “tuned in” to many media sources throughout the day, and others are not. It’s not easy to choose the stories to put in the next day’s paper and still keep the news “current” for the tuned-in people.”
“Overall, mobile is where it’s at, and visuals have become so much more important,” Chan said. “Newspapers and their websites remain the strongest of any media in their market. It’s all about the content–making a difference every day.”
Statistics shared by Chan: there are 6.8 billion people in the world today, and 4 billion have a mobile phone while only 3.5 billion use a toothbrush. There are163 million Facebook users in the U.S., 158 million adults in the U.S. have read a newspaper in the past seven days, 108 million watched the 2013 Super Bowl, and 14 million watched the last American Idol final. One Sunday, 28,000 subscribers called The News-Press when their papers were several hours late because of a press problem.
During the Q&A period following her talk, Chan said that she feels that Southwest Florida is too focused on borders vs. bridges, particularly in the past. She feels that there is a change, a regional economic arm that is ready to launch, covering the five counties in the region.
In addressing education, Chan said that she sees a lot of need to support education in Southwest Florida, and kindergarten is too late! “Some of our children are not able to write a correct, complete sentence.”
In summary, Chan said that she feels that there is a need–a hunger–to work together in our area, especially on economic and educational issues.