From an early age, Hoisington knew what she wanted, and the determined young woman worked hard to achieve it. In high school, Hoisington served as yearbook editor and took classes in photography and journalism. She continued her passion in college, where she pursued a major in graphic arts. In 1979, Hoisington was hired at the Idahonian in Moscow, Idaho, a daily newspaper where she acted as the creative designer for ads, special sections and covers, and dummied layouts of the publication.
“Julie was the best graphic artist that our little newspaper had ever seen,” said Randy Frisch, former advertising manager at the Idahonian.
“When somebody needed something done right and done with style, they’d go to Julie,” he said, calling her a quiet, go-to leader in the small advertising department.
In 1988, Hoisington took her talents to San Diego, where she and her ex-husband, David Mannis, established SDCNG with the publication of a single paper, Beach & Bay Press, serving the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach communities.
The company continued to expand, with publications to include communities in Point Loma, Ocean Beach, La Jolla and downtown.
After the couple’s divorce, the duo continued to work as co-publishers at SDCNG for eight years.
Hoisington has been operating SDCNG solo for two years now — and despite a downturn in the economy, the emergence of competing businesses and new technology to contend with — she is thriving at the helm.
Today, SDCNG publishes San Diego Downtown News, Beach & Bay Press, The Peninsula Bea-
con, La Jolla Village News and San Diego Pets Magazine.
“The secret to success through economic challenges is that we’re able to think of it as a grassroots approach,” Hoisington said.
Larger dailies find it difficult to fulfill their subscription quotas because they compete with an increasingly over-saturated marketplace of media sources from the Internet and television. This, in turn, lessens the influx of advertising dollars and altogether diminishes the existence of daily papers, she explained.
Advertising in community newspapers is ideal for small businesses trying to target a specific audience because the papers are seen by more than a subscription-based fraction of the market.
In the case of SDCNG, Hoisington’s papers hit a vast portion of the community, delivering niche publications to 56,000 doorsteps every week, she said.
“Having an independently-owned format, we’re not competing with the dailies and broadcast. We’re isolated to the niche of community news,” she said, calling SDCNG’s business model “hyper-local from day one.”
“We can be creative and not only bring the news, but be creative from the marketing standpoint and come up with the most effective campaign,” she said.
SDCNG executive editor John Gregory, who has worked with Hoisington for 15 years, called Hoisington a “determined and clever business owner.”
“I’ve seen her evolve into a very effective manager and leader of personnel,” he said.
“She is not afraid of making decisions and sparking immediate action,” Gregory said. “She has seen changes in this business, knows how things work and she is pushing for progressive improvements. This is something you rarely see — even today — in the newspaper industry.”
One such decisive action that the business-savvy leader undertook was to embrace the latest trends in technology instead of blaming it as the culprit of print’s demise. SDCNG launched www.sdnews.com in the mid-1990s. It has since become a comprehensive online website for Hoisington’s network of publications. The home page now features daily news updates and the news team has adopted a web-first strategy.
News space used to be really tight in print, and a lot would get cut or held out, Hoisington said. Introducing fresh news online each day provides readers up-to-date and more in-depth information about their community on a regular basis — like an electronic daily newspaper.
In addition, Hoisington mandated an ambitious social media program which was launched this year.
“I enjoy the fact that it’s real people with real lives, and we bring them news that will affect and touch their lives,” she said.
Despite difficult times for print, Hoisington has succeeded by pushing forward with new, progressive ideas in the industry to keep niche publications alive in San Diego. She has been an instrumental figure in building commerce in local communities and presenting news that often gets overlooked by larger daily papers and broadcast.
“It’s an interesting industry to be in,” she said. “There’s never a dull moment.”
For more information about SDCNG, visit www.sdnews.com or call (858) 270-3103.