Two Cents Worth: Now entering our fifth year…

Well, here we are, with another year under our belt. 

The O’Fallon Weekly turns four and begins its fifth year of publication with this edition. 

I always like to take this specific column and do a bit of a State of the Weekly type of address. 

Things have changed a bit since last year when I wrote this. The staff at the Weekly continues to evolve. That even includes this week when we brought on a new reporter, Sally, to cover Lebanon. You will get to know Sally in the coming weeks.

Readership of the Weekly continues to grow. Subscriptions are defying national trends and increasing in number. While we do have some digital subscribers, most are print readers.

We did have to unfortunately do away with our military subscription rate last year. Cost increases from printing to postage hit us hard and caused that subscription level to actually lose us money. No business can survive doing that for long, no matter what.

One thing I’m personally excited about is that the Weekly is now being read by Mind’s Eye radio, which reads local newspapers so folks with visual impairments can get their news. I met the folks from Mind’s Eye at a Chamber of Commerce after hours event and they asked to include our paper in their lineup. Who was I to say no?

In terms of content, I am never satisfied with everything we have in the Weekly and feel it can always improve. That’s no slight against my writers as they do a great job, more just an observation that there is so much happening in this area that needs attention given to it. For example, we’ve relied on parents to send in sports coverage during this school year. While some teams have very active and involved parents that send me a number of photos and great articles, other teams I don’t hear anything from at all. We’ve been without a dedicated sports reporter since last year when Sam left for Ohio. So I’d like to get sports a bit more under control.

Going forward, there are a few projects we plan on rolling out that I am excited about.

If you haven’t already signed up for our Friday E-Blast, do so at our website, OFallonWeekly.com. Its a free newsletter where we share news and information. 

We’re looking to expand the E-Blast to possibly a second day and expand the content within it. For example, we often run obituaries in the paper after the services have taken place. We’re looking to add obituaries to the E-Blasts so folks can learn if a person they knew has passed away sooner and can plan on attending the services if they so choose.

We’re also looking to expand and do more video content in the coming weeks and months. A former OTHS student and videographer reached out and wants to gain experience and will be joining the Weekly very soon. 

Finally, I’d like to approach a very sensitive subject, and that is advertising. I’ve attempted to write the following thoughts a number of times but I never go forward with publishing them because I feel like I’m whining. However, recent events have brought this back to the forefront of my mind.

We have a number of advertisers that have been rock solid and very loyal to the Weekly. I can only hope with all of my heart that my readers have been equally as loyal and good to them, as their marketing dollars are what allow us to bring you the paper each and every week.

However, as time goes on, that advertiser pool needs to increase in size. My sales rep, Colleen, has been going out in the community and speaking with business owners. She reports to me that a number of businesses are doing their advertising online or elsewhere. While I can respect that, I’d humbly like to point out that we have a great local audience that appreciates our product and those that help us bring them our product.

While so many shops and businesses around O’Fallon and Shiloh remind you to shop local and shop small, I’d humbly ask they consider doing the same as the Weekly is a local business just like theirs. I employ all local folks who spend their dollars in town at other local businesses. I impress upon them the importance of doing business with those that do business with us, because that’s really important to me. 

When ad dollars are spent online and in corporately owned publications, they are flying away, out of the local economy and into California. 

I’m obviously not asking to be the sole source of advertising for a local business. As in a lot of things, diversity is key. However, I just ask that consideration is given to advertising with the Weekly by some local  businesses. We offer a great product that people tell me they enjoy reading. 

Our cheapest ad is within our Friday E-Blast. That $25 ad goes a long way in my meager budget and won’t break any marketing budget. I encourage local businesses to give us a try and let us try and help you promote your business.

All in all, things do look like they are headed in the right direction at the Weekly. We’re operating very lean and trying our best to be everywhere and cover everything as best we can. We appreciate all of the help we receive through news tips, story and photo submissions, and more.

Four years ago I had a dream of a community newspaper for O’Fallon that brought folks what they wanted to read. While there are miles to go before I sleep, I do feel like each year we get closer and closer to the goal. 

Thank you for four years and I look forward to spending year five with you. 

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