On our way to ‘The best?’ I had a loyal customer stop me the other day and tell me we need to put this in our flag along the top of our front page: “The best weekly newspaper in Wisconsin.” …
On our way to ‘The best?’
I had a loyal customer stop me the other day and tell me we need to put this in our flag along the top of our front page: “The best weekly newspaper in Wisconsin.”
We’re working hard at it, but we’re not there yet. We want to be, but we have work to do.
I received a letter a few months back that criticized me for “tooting our horn” too much and “preaching” about the importance of local newspapers.
“Put something else there,” she said. “We’re sick of hearing about this all the time.”
I’m sorry ma’am, but this is all I know. I have a few themes here: My wife, my family, what I hate to eat and newspapers. That about rounds me out.
You should have known me a decade ago when my kids were dragging me across two states most weekends of the year in sports. I probably had a lot more experiences to write about every week. For a time there I considered myself an expert on where the best Bloody Mary’s were served, as I’d sneak out during breaks in the action.
Now, I can tell you who has the best coffee, which convenience stores have the best hot dogs and where the police like to hide, not that it matters, as I try to stick within the speed limit “margin for error” at all times.
This is a critical time for local newspapers. Some of the bigger papers thought they were smart in putting their content on the World Wide Web for free. Many of them have shut down or consolidated newspapers now and have staffs that are a fraction of what they were a decade ago.
This small-town newspaper owner pretty much shunned the web in the early days, because it was one more thing that had to be done in a week where there are only seven days. Plus, it was an added expense. I was one little guy, but I could look at things right in my own office and wonder how I was going to feed my kids by giving away my product for free.
There were a lot of smart people that did a lot of stupid things. And they left an opening for a little guy who had time on his hands, because he wasn’t chasing his kids across two states for athletic events anymore. There was some scheming and some planning, and a decision was made that we can do what we do for more people.
Judging by the number of new subscriptions we get every week, we’ve found our niche. Local news is alive and well!
We weathered the storm of the Internet age by forging a compromise: If you don’t want good old newsprint in your hands, you can subscribe to the digital version. It’ll save you a few bucks, and you can follow your local news on your computer.
Local newspapers are still at a critical juncture. Public notices, which local units of government have to post, are always under attack every legislative session. Some local government bodies would rather hide their proceedings on their very little-read websites rather than print them in the local newspaper for everyone to read. Make sure you let your lawmakers know that there are far more important things they can be taking up, rather than to hide things from taxpayers.
Two years ago, I was pretty much a one-man show. I did everything myself. In the last 15 months, that’s changed drastically. We went from a couple small town papers to the fastest-growing newspapers in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. We work hard, and we have no plans on letting up. We have some big things planned for weeks to come.
Someday we hope to earn the compliment of being called the “best weekly newspaper”. When we get there, you’ll know.
I’m going to write about it.