LION member spotlight: CNBNews

A Q&A with William E. Cleary Sr., publisher of CNBNews in New Jersey.

October 9, 2015 by LION Publishers


1.  When did your site launch, what geography does it cover and why was it founded?

Our site was founded in July 2006. The new owner of the Gloucester City News, a weekly paper, located in Gloucester City, New Jersey, asked me to build it. After it was completed he said he didn’t have the time to keep it current. Instead of letting my hard work go to the wayside, I kept it going, adding ClearysNoteBook to the domain name. CNBNews provides news and opinion regarding the South Jersey and Philadelphia region, with a focus on Gloucester City.

2.  What was your background before becoming an independent local news publisher?

I began my career in journalism in 1968 with the family newspaper, The Gloucester City News. In 1978, I was named the editor of that newspaper along with being named the editor of The Camden County Record, another paper owned by the family. In 1984, my wife Connie and I purchased the Gloucester City News from my parents. We sold the paper in 2001. I kept writing a weekly column for the paper until 2012.

3.  How would you describe your operation and business model?

My father taught me everything I know about the newspaper business. I followed him around when I was a kid, rushing out the door to cover a ?re or some other story. He taught me the news part of the business and my mother, who was in charge of the money, taught me the ?nancial side of the business. They were both good teachers. My father told me in the very beginning,  “If you are doing your job right you will always have someone mad at you. If you want to be popular, you better rethink your chosen career.”

4. What do you consider your competition as a local news or information source?

In the very beginning, ClearysNoteBook was the only news website in the immediate South Jersey area. The daily newspapers were just getting started with developing their websites. Local towns along with police and ?re departments would use our site to make emergency announcements. I worked the site seven days a week and continue to follow that regimen even now. Today, there is Facebook, Twitter, and the daily newspapers have reporters covering stories that are just posted on the websites.  Even so CNBNews still has a strong following. We give them in-depth news along with controversial articles and commentary that the local newspaper and the dailies don’t cover for fear of angering their advertisers. The daily newspapers have long forgotten local news.  Bloggers who devote coverage to their community and nearby towns will succeed if they pick up that slack.

5. What makes your site unique?

We give the reader an opposing point of view. Gloucester City, along with 37 other communities in Camden County, have been ruled by the Camden County Democrat machine for decades. The old boys club continues to meet behind closed doors. The public is looking for someone who will speak out against these bureaucrats.  We do that.  We are not afraid to ruf?e feathers. Just recently we ?led a lawsuit against the City of Gloucester for refusing our requests for information. That lawsuit is scheduled to be heard on Nov. 13. I do what I do because I enjoy writing. I also think that I provide a community service. I have no ulterior motive or agenda. I believe our readers recognize my sincerity.

6. What is something you wish you had known when you were starting out or would do differently now that could perhaps serve as advice for others?

I wished I had chosen another name for my blog. I was taught that a news reporter should not be the focus of an article. Naming the site ClearysNoteBook gives me too much notoriety. South Jersey News, for example, would have been a better choice.

7. What about your operation is your biggest source of pride right now?

Running a weekly newspaper for several decades, I was always a week behind on many stories. If a breaking story happened after our deadline I would have to wait until the next week to report on it.  Having the capability to post a breaking news story in a matter of minutes that can be read by the world is such an adrenaline rush for this old timer. I take great pride in beating out the dailies and in some cases the local television stations with a developing story.

8.  What do you struggle with the most?

I am a one-man show. I have several people who write a weekly commentary for our blog, but when it comes to the news, I am all alone. I wish I could afford to pay someone to help me with gathering news. I would like to have the time to learn how to move the blog up to the number one spot on Google.

9. What are some of your future goals for the site?

It would be nice to make some money for all my efforts. As it is now, what little revenue that does come in goes towards operational costs.  If only I had more time.

10. Why are you a member of LION Publishers?

There is strength in numbers. As the membership continues to grow, the more in?uence the organization will have on the national level. The LION Publishers insignia on our website gives a professional look to our blog. It shows that we are serious about our work. If I have a problem, I know I can reach out to the membership for help. Hopefully, someday soon the organization will be able to attract national advertisers who will advertise on each member’s website. I also look forward to the day when the organization can issue press credentials to each member.  

Sign up for the weekly newsletter

Join the LION mailing list to get our weekly roundup of opportunities and resources for news entrepreneurs. View our most recent issues.