A few years ago, an old coworker asked me why I still went out to cover community news events, even though I was in the higher ranks of management. He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t just do like many others and “hire others” and sit back in an office or at home at night and let them do the “grunt work,” as he called it. He suggested it was inappropriate for a company “leader” to attend high school football games, graduations, city meetings, or other public events.

I took this inquiry with a grain of salt because the person posing the question was somewhat uneducated about our specific industry of community journalism, and they were a bit on the lazy side as well. When the clock hit 4:59 p.m., most days he was halfway to the car. While his comment was pointless to me, I did attempt to explain it back then. Did it sink in? That’s still up for debate, but it likely did not. The truth is, my philosophy goes way back before I was old enough to know what I would do for a career or a business one day.


Everyone knows “news” doesn’t happen on a 9 to 5 schedule. However, that was not the main reason for my desire to be out doing that so-called “grunt work.” The reasoning goes far beyond that, and it’s paid off. Here’s the how and why explained, as it very much ties into Father’s Day and my current role.

First and foremost, it’s an aspect of the industry I truly love and was apparently just born to do. By now, we’ve figured that out in the last half century. Nobody really knows where that skill and passion came from within me or what made me dig an old camera out of a goodwill box as a kid and beg my mom to let me keep it to play with, which is a story for an entirely different column.


So let’s fast forward from my childhood years to the present, where I now co-own a company in the community news business that has quickly grown to success in popularity and sustainability beyond my wildest expectations.

And today, I am still out there doing what I have always done along with many hats you wear as a business owner because that’s how you succeed in this industry and many others. You have to do the work.


Let’s face it, Noah didn’t have others build that ark, Michelangelo didn’t hire a painter, and Francis Scott Key didn’t use ChatGPT to write the Star-Spangled Banner. They did the work they needed to do to succeed.


To succeed and properly serve a community in my line of work, you have to be out there in that community. You have to be part of it to have a pulse on it. You must gain and maintain the trust of your peers, leaders, and others to succeed, from the story subjects to the advertisers and, of course, your readers.

To sum it up, you need to know your neighborhood and always have compassion when you’re telling its stories, whether good or bad. I keep using that word, community, but that’s what it’s all about. Community comes before all else in this business, before skillset, passion, investment capital, and all else. If you don’t start with that C word, your foundation is weak or nonexistent.


So where is this all going? Well, I learned about the importance of community from the greatest teacher in the world, in my eyes. He didn’t have a teaching degree, and he didn’t wear a cape.

He had a name, but I called him Dad. It’s officially June now, the month where America celebrates Father’s Day. It’s a month that is always a tough one, seeing the many “celebrate dad” signs, cards, ads, and more.

When your hero has passed, those things are often tearful reminders of the person you miss so much and still want to celebrate. But why limit it to one day? Why not honor them in many ways from the start of the month and beyond? Well, that’s where this is going.

He may not have taught me how to play baseball, football, or some of those things many dads do. He didn’t spend time teaching us school subjects; he left that to our great school teachers. Looking back today, he taught me what I consider the greatest lesson possible, curtailed to guide me on the journey I would follow long before I ever knew it, and it was all about community!

My dad didn’t sit down and recite these important life lessons I cherish today. He taught me them by doing them, by doing the work, even when he was at the top of his own industry, which was grocery stores.

As a manager, he didn’t sit in an office and watch others do the work; he got out there and did it with them. He still cleaned spills, stocked shelves, ran a register when needed, helped prep produce, drove trucks, and more. He never ever said, “That’s not my job.”

But most importantly, he got out there and engaged with his community. He was part of it each and every day. There were times we would go out to dinner or go to the fair, the races, or someplace, and he would get stopped by so many to talk to him or shake his hand. He wasn’t a community leader; he was just very much part of his community. He was well respected. He was my dad.

My dad’s lessons in community combined with a skill and passion I was apparently born with are what I truly cite as my foundation for success in life and now in business. Little did I know back then he was teaching me something so incredibly important. This example, plus a time when my dad was in his final days of life we had a conversation about the future of my career in the challenging “newspaper” industry at the time.

I had stepped away from it and wanted to find my way back to in a fashion that it could earn a decent living, support a family, a home and more. All of the things my own dad provided for us. His words were few and soft in those final days, but he said the words I will always remember, “you’ll find a way, it’s what you love to do.”   With that said, I can honestly admit, that dad was always right, because here were are today finding that way.

Whether you still have your dad around or not, celebrate them this Father’s Day in whatever way you can. If you are a father of little ones today enjoy whatever they do for you on this weekend to come. But more importantly, remember they are watching you and learning from you in so many ways, from the simple things to the most complex. Just make sure you “do the work,” and be a great example. Trust me, they will be eternally grateful.

Happy Father’s Day!

Bill Sullivan is a co-founder and CEO of All Town Media LLC and Folsom Times,