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Wednesday, September 27, 2023
HomeOpinionEditorialAS WE SEE IT: Perception matters

AS WE SEE IT: Perception matters

You may have noticed that the last two issues were a little thicker.

That’s something you should get used to. 

While we’ve done a mix of six and eight page papers since we started publishing two years ago, the six page paper has been our minimum benchmark. No matter what, no mater how slow the news week was, we had to fill six pages, with as much locally relevant content as possible. And we’ve done that each and every week, with a staff of two and the help of a few unpaid contributors and the occasional stringer and intern. 

It’s not always been easy to put out the paper every week, but we’ve done it – even when the snow and ice storms had us working on a borrowed cell phone hot spot and sleeping over at relative’s homes so we could get out and deliver papers. 

It’s sometimes been a struggle to fill that minimum of six pages, but not because there isn’t enough stuff happening in Carter County. It’s simply the time and resources. But, despite this, we’ve decided it’s time to make the paper thicker. Or, at least, try. 

Our new benchmark is eight pages each and every week. 

There are challenges involved in this, not least of which is the extra content we’ll have to write, or cajole others into writing, every week. There is also an increase in printing cost, and an increased mailing cost for the extra weight (which, let me say, really adds up when you are carrying anywhere from 700 to 900 papers to and from your car). 

But we think it’s time.

One reason is that there are stories we’ve sometimes missed. This need to fill an extra page or two forces our hand. It makes us look closer into these local stories that otherwise might have slipped between the cracks, and give them the attention they deserve.

The other is customer feedback. We’ve had folks tell us they like the comics page, and want it every week. Now, barring some need for extensive coverage that takes over the page, they will get that.

There are other suggestions for content too that we may experiment with as well. Some folks have asked for a seven-day weather forecasts, for instance. While we haven’t yet found a reliable source for that sort of thing – it’s not included in our syndication package – we haven’t completely ruled it out. 

If we ever grow to where we can add another full or part time reporter, I’d love to increase both our courts and law enforcement coverage, and our high school sports coverage. 

If we ever do increase that coverage, we’re going to need those extra pages. 

The extra space also allows us to take state and national coverage and find angles of interest to local audiences, like with the governor’s announcement of ARPA fund releases to Grayson and Olive Hill in this issue. 

It gives us more space for art, music, and entertainment coverage and photo packages as well. 

But the main reason is because of perception that our paper was too thin. 

Even though we’ve maintained steady coverage of county government, city council in Grayson and Olive Hill, school board, ambulance board, arrests, indictments, both chambers of commerce, community events, and as much high school sports as we could manage, one of the comments we’ve heard over and over is that the paper feels thin. 

When we explain to individuals that this is because we don’t tend to have as many paid advertisements as other newspapers – or any shared corporate content to pad out our paper – and not because we aren’t covering local news, they usually understand. 

But we can’t be there at the news stand every time someone picks up our paper and decides it feels thin. So, we’re going to try on an eight page standard and see how it feels, for us and for our readers.

It’s going to be more work, but it can only benefit the community and our readers to have more local news content. 

And if you have something you’d like us to fill those extra pages with, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at news@cartercountytimes.com. We’d love to have your feedback, contributions, and letters to the editor. 



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