The wave of changing technology has created real challenges for legacy media organizations. The changing media landscape has forced media outlets to adapt to survive. In Martin, Tennessee, the hometown newspaper The Weakley County Press was founded in 1884. The staff there has made community the focus and that has made all the difference.
Managing editor Lynette Wagster said a community newspaper belongs to the community. “As a whole we are surviving better than national newspapers because we continue to focus on our “communities,” she said. “We have seen that going BACK to “hometown” news coverage is where we need to be.” Wagster said keeping our community involved is the key to any community newspaper’s success. “When you aren’t involved in the community, when you no longer care about the “little” things going on, you will ultimately lose,” said Wagster.
An example of that local flair is an annual reader voted “Best of Weakley County” section. After the votes are in, a special tab is created with the winners and that is a new revenue source. Over seventy categories are featured in the tab ranging from best restaurant to best teacher.
But even in a small community there are still challenges. One of those is balancing the news to meet the needs of our diversified community. “We live in such a diversified community – farmers to professors, college students to factory workers – it’s hard to please everyone,” Wagster said.
Wagster also says readers have noticed a smaller page count as more advertisers skip the ROP advertising in lieu of inserts. “This is where we focus on feature pages promoting even more community events,” she said.
Wagster said they have a Facebook page and post links to their stories there. They just completed a major renovation of the entire website and as of now it’s still free. “We are late on charging for the website and have lost revenue there,” Wagster added “Web advertising is now a challenge to us.”