Chief Executive Officer Tony Allegretti, 67, has officially taken the helm as publisher of the Gilroy Dispatch and its sister papers, the Morgan Hill Times and Hollister Free Lance.
After living in La Jolla for four years, Allegretti recently settled back down in Gilroy to replace his business partner of 21 years, Steve Staloch, who recently resigned as chief operating officer and senior vice president.
Allegretti and Staloch co-founded Mainstreet Media Group in 2004. The company consists of 14 publications located throughout California and includes South Valley Newspapers – a geographic division within the company that includes the Morgan Hill Times, Gilroy Dispatch and Hollister Free Lance.
After a lengthy and colorful news career spent working in numerous pockets of the media industry, Allegretti says he's right where he wants to be.
“I plan on remaining here as the publisher,” he says. “I like to publish. I started as a publisher, and I miss it.”
He's also happy to be back in the Garlic Capital, an area Allegretti appreciates for the “mix of agriculture with a vibrant growing community,” he said. “You're living in the country, but you're 40 miles from a metropolitan area. This is the perfect place.”
As president and publisher of the Mainstreet Media Group, Allegretti is responsible for oversight of all operations and the editorial policies of the newspaper company.
He praises the local newspapers for comprehensive coverage of breaking, hyper-local and lifestyle stories “better than anyone else.” The economic woes in the newspaper industry are actually on an upward trend, he said.
“I think it's a wonderful time to be in the business. Everything is going local,” he explains, identifying Internet giants including Facebook, Google and Groupon as moving in the direction of trying to tap into local markets. “We're already there.”
Calling attention to how American business magnate Warren Buffett recently purchased 63 newspapers for $142 million, Allegretti believes “there's a great future in the newspaper business.”
In the same vein as Buffett, who in June told The Daily Beast: “I think we made a mistake in newspapers when we offered the same product online … that is not a sustainable business model,” Allegretti's mantra is on track with other media outlets across the nation.
“Every major newspaper company in America is going to go to paid websites,” he explains. “And we will also.”
Beginning Oct. 1, the Gilroy Dispatch website will ask readers to sign up for a free online subscription, which requires logging in with an email address. The Morgan Hill Times began requiring email addresses before a reader can read a full story in April of this year.
In the future, a “nominal fee” will be required to access certain parts of the Dispatch website. Allegretti wants this to happen as soon as possible, he said.
At that time, current print subscribers will continue to receive their online news for free.
Readers will have the option to buy either a print or an online subscription if they don't want both, or purchase a package that includes a print and online subscription.
“The news isn't free,” Allegretti reasons. “It costs money to gather news, and it can't be given away.”
Allegretti grew up with ink on his fingers – literally – starting when he was a newspaper delivery boy at the age of 7. His family owned the daily paper in his hometown of Watseka, Illinois.
He remained entrenched in the news business ever since, getting his hands dirty in numerous jobs including sports writing, sales, advertising, managing, publishing and group publishing.
Allegretti previously oversaw 44 different publications in Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska over a time span of nine years.
Allegretti has two grown sons and twin daughters living in Texas, California and Illinois.
A newspaper's job, Allegretti believes, “is to be the watchdog over government. And that's why our forefathers created freedom of the press. Sure, we're a moneymaking venture, but we have a job to do, and that's to protect people from government and to watch government, and I take that very, very seriously.”