For 18 years, from March of 1992 until March of 2010, I worked for newspapers.

You probably remember newspapers: Those collections of pages of news, ads and pictures folded together and delivered to your door (or sitting on the shelf at the grocery store).

I worked at the offices of six different newspapers in four different communities. I went as far north as West Union and as far south as Fairfield, covering everything from murders (yes, three of them) to an elementary school principal getting his head shaved to celebrate an achievement by his student body.

I loved what I did but always thought there was a better way to communicate with people what was happening. We spent an awful lot of time doing silly things that didn’t seem to make the news any better. We used to put borders around our photos with tape that was about 1/8th of an inch wide, with a line in the center.

I read lots of books by newspaper people during those years, and I realized that I was part of something special.

I also realized, however, that times were changing, and that newspapers may not be around forever.

Four years ago, a new opportunity presented itself: Doing the work of a newspaper person, but only on the computer.

Such a thing was virtually brand new. While most newspapers added a web site to supplement their publications, there were next to no online-only publications. Still, there are only a handful in the country, and only one other one that I can think of in Iowa.

We began Vinton Today, with the help of the people at Monkeytown (who have made great web sites for other local organizations). We did not know for sure if readers were ready to get their news online, or if advertisers were ready to support it.

We quickly found out that they were.

It tooks us a while to get going, to build up our network of contributors, to add advertisers, to get people familiar with Vinton Today.

It wasn't always easy.

For the first few months, several people said to me, “I miss your articles, but do not have a computer.” Now, just about everyone is on-line. We have more than 1,100 people who receive our email at 11:45 every day, with links to our newest stories. We recently surpassed 1,800 people who follow us on Facebook, helping us to share our stories and photos even more quickly.

I thought that maybe we had reached a plateau in December, when we were averaging just over 9,000 page views (stories read) every day. But since January 15, when we passed the 8 million total page view milestone, we have averaged 10,700 page views per day.

There are a few people who still like to call us a “blog,” to say that we are not as significant as a “real” newspaper. But I can tell you that the local TV stations pay attention to us, and that often what you see about Vinton on TV was first on Vinton Today.

We started this web site believing but not knowing for sure if, or how, it would work. Now, we know. So thanks to everyone who in some way helped us to get to this milestone, and tomorrow we will start working on our next four years – and beyond.

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Comments (2)

Congratulations on all your achievements and for providing access to Vinton by those of us who no longer live in Vinton but want to keep in touch with local happenings. I always look forward to my daily email.
By: Chris Galligan on March 11th 3:48pm
Congregations Dean on being one of the pioneers of the future of newspapers. I predict that in the future you won't be able to buy a printed newspaper.
By: Brad Anderson on March 11th 9:49pm

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