Editorial: Another Round of Changes Hits the City-Times
Check out area NRG Media stations starting Monday for the first ever City-Times commercials. (logos courtesy of NRG Media)
By Brandi Makuski
We couldn’t wait any longer- we’re spring cleaning now.
Weeks of arctic weather have in some ways stifled some of our planned growth: impassable, snow-covered roads prevented or delayed business meetings, -50 degree temps forced some reporters to stay at home with cars that wouldn’t start and weather- related news, while still vital to our community due to the uncommon extremes, has become the norm lately but let’s face it: it’s droll and lacks any use of creativity.
It’s a growing process for us, not only as news reporters but as business owners. Your grace, support and patience with the City-Times organizations is our sole means of continuance. Thank you.
So we’re sweeping out our offices and changing the curtains now- even though the official start of spring is more than one month away and depleted snow banks are even further beyond that. We’re bringing on new staff and expanding the Wisconsin Rapids City-Times and Stevens Point City-Times to be larger, more effective and continuously ultra- local news machines for the benefit of our readers.
We have plans for a public store front office in the very near future, and we’re still tossing around ideas for a possible print issue later in 2014- something we’re constantly being asked for.
Beginning Monday, our regular coverage will include what is most requested by our readers: continued in-depth daily coverage of Stevens Point, Plover, Whiting and Hull municipal government; daily state news briefs; heavier and more frequent school board coverage; a Photo of the Day feature and local police reports to run Monday through Friday; more frequent editorials and additional arts, business and community coverage. It all begins bright and early at 4 AM and runs throughout each day.
You’ve also asked for a daily dose of Food Swings recipes and a “Portage County’s Most Wanted” section (which we’ll update every Sunday at 4 AM) as well as a section devoted to a community events calendar and a large Sunday e-issue including a breakdown of the week’s events and photos.
And of course, we always welcome your open letters.
All our coverage is still provided 100 percent free of charge (though we welcome your generous donations) for the purposes of maintaining a well-informed electorate and a more open, communicative and unified community for area taxpayers and other residents.
Starting Monday you’ll be hearing our commercials on area NRG Media radio stations, to include 103.3 WGLX, 106.5 WYTE, Big Cheese 107.9 and HOT 96.7. It’s an arrangement that’s taken months to procure, and one we had to wrestle with the ethical implications of. After all, a news organization should not itself be news, nor create it, but rather provide a shared experience for a community by gathering, verifying and reporting news vital to the electorate. It came down to this: how else do you ‘advertise’ a news publication which had the gall to open its doors in a community with already well-established media outlets, and also in the face of so many other news publications across this country shutting down?
We’re a grassroots company in every sense, having started our business almost three years ago with only a gutsy idea but no business plan, no startup capital and funded only by the money in our pockets. We’ve experienced high turnover with would-be news reporters disenchanted by the amount of work involved in reporting the news. We’ve clawed our way to relevance and credibility by bringing you hard- hitting, in-depth and fact-based news with honor, dignity and fearlessness, and we’ve done it despite our opposition having spent decades confusing news consumers about the purpose behind the Fourth Estate.
Last year our efforts came to fruition with a total of 6.5 million website visits and a peak readership of 11,000 daily readers. It’s nothing short of humbling but also quite motivating for the coming year.
Over the next year we’ll bring you public debates with local candidates as well as youth photo and writing contests and internships for public and parochial students in grades six and up to encourage heightened awareness and knowledge about school district structure, local government and community events.
We hope our relationships with NRG Media, as with all our business relationships, is a long one. By now we’re familiar with sailing in uncharted waters, and becoming the first local news media website to announce its existence with a radio commercial is definitely outside the realms of what is common or expected.
We hope you enjoy the ride with us for many years to come.