#MediaMonday – Ed Baker

It’s always so random how you meet people in this business.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Baker, editor of the College Times for the past 10 years, in Ken Koziol’s office at Entertainment Solutions back in 2004 or 2005. Entertainment Solutions was putting on its annual Tempe Music Festival and the College Times was a major media partner.
At just 24 and about to become an event spokesperson for the first time, I quickly learned that Ed was a go-to resource for just about anything. And this was in the days before Facebook and Twitter.
All these years later, I still get to work with Ed and the College Times.
And today, I get to turn the tables on him – for once, he is the subject of the story, not the editor!
(If new to #MediaMonday – it’s a weekly profile of some of our favorite media peeps. A full list of past profiles is available here.)
So, Ed, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
I’ve been in Valley media for 15 years, all of it on the print side, and to me the business is increasingly becoming all about the people – our relationships and our ability to work together towards common goals.
I used to see the world in categories – journalists, editors, PR people, executives, employees. But now I just see most of us in the same giant boat known as humanity – trying collectively to row our way towards success, happiness, security for ourselves, our friends and our families.
Sure, there are barriers in our job definitions, but I’m a big believer in finding collaborative ways for us to work. The best PR people know that it’s stories that make magazines, television programs, websites and radio shows tick. And the best ones find the stories their clients have to tell, bring them to the forefront and match them with the proper media outlet. Every client, no matter how big or small, has a story to tell – many to stories to tell, in fact.
My story is all over the place. I’ve been a partier, then a health nut, then something in between. I value my friends and family above all other things in the world. I’ve run 10 marathons and completed Ironman Arizona twice (that’s the one where you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles – in a row).
I love my son, Beckett, and my daughter, Brody. I love my wife, Heidi. We’ve been married for almost 11 years, and together for 16. We started dating when we were 19.
I love Tempe. I work, live and volunteer in the city. I serve on Kiwanis, I host fundraisers for Tempe Community Action Agency, I help to construct and maintain the Broadmor Elementary School Garden. I do volunteer PR work for several organizations.
I know that employment and life, itself, is fleeting. My son was diagnosed with a rare immune system disorder in February known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome. He went from a healthy boy to paralyzed from the neck down in 96 hours. If you’ve ever had a child become paralyzed or hurt, strapped to a dozen monitoring devices in the pediatric intensive care unit, ask you if he’s going to die, your life is never the same afterwards. I’ve starred my greatest fear in the face. Once you’ve seen that fear, once you’ve looked it in the eye, there’s no such thing as a “bad day” ever again. My son recovered completely and is a healthy 7-year-old today.
I never take for granted the opportunity to meet and work with the many amazing media professionals in the Valley. I believe every day is a blessing, and live my life accordingly.
I like beer – especially big explosive ones with lots of hops. I also like bourbon, on the rocks. No mixers, please.
A lot of people think they know what College Times is about. They don’t. College Times is mostly about lifting people up. There are plenty of organizations to report bad news. We try to be fiercely local in our coverage; covering the small businesses, small business owners and young entrepreneurs that make the Discovery Triangle area of the Valley tick. Yes, we write about booze and nightlife and things to do. That’s also part of what young people are interested in.
When I left the East Valley Tribune 10 years ago to help get College Times off the ground someone there told me, “You’ll be back here on your knees, begging for your job, in six months.” Over the past decade, lots of newcomers with glossy pages and big attitudes have told us they were going to put us out of business. We kept our nose to the grindstone, kept our egos in check and kept working to improve. In January, we’ll celebrate a decade in business. To have succeeded in print media, in this environment? To say that I’m extremely proud doesn’t even begin to express what I feel.
I have a strong distaste for the idea that “print is dead.” It’s a 5,000 year old medium that has withstood every great technological advancement throughout the history of mankind. The general public and small business owners hear that phrase and take it to mean: The Arizona Republic is dead, the Los Angeles Times is dead, the Wall Street Journal is dead. That’s hogwash.
Combined with their digital audiences, traditional print media companies still control the largest viewing audience of any media type, in almost every city they operate in – in Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles. This is “dead?” This idea is poison for the PR community, the media community and the general public. It, combined with a host of other factors, is drastically altering one of the most important institutions of an informed society.
I think the traditional print industry as a whole needs a well-managed PR campaign against the notion. Media pros are good at sifting through PR, but they’re not all that sharp at managing their own.
Despite that little soap-box stand I just took, the thing you should mostly know about me: I’m not really all that prone to soap box stands. I readily admit when I’m wrong. And I love to learn from people who know more about a subject than me.
But, most importantly, you should know that I’m happy. Really, really happy. Just about every day I’m alive.

Written by
at Dec 12, 2011

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