How Wrangler News faces new realities yet retains hometown flavor

Our print origins meet the digital world and we’ve adjusted successfully

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At Wrangler News, we’re career print journalists who have adjusted to the industry shift to the cyber world — along with you — and we’re proud of our robust website, wranglernews.com, as well as our Facebook page. Please continue to engage with us! –Wrangler News photo

COMMENTARY

Having described in previous issues the response we’ve had to the growth of our online viewership in recent months, I wondered if mentioning it again might be perceived by our readers as pushing the boundary of excess.

Don Kirkland

But when Joyce and I met the other day with Lee Shappell, our gatekeeper of things digital, what he reported was so noteworthy (to us, at least) that I felt you might be interested in hearing some of those successes and how they relate to the future of little community newspapers—like ours.

While we know that many readers still appreciate the tangible pleasure of retrieving a newspaper from their driveway, and holding it in their hands as they skim through the pages to find a familiar face or business, the trend unquestionably is leading toward getting our news online or on social media on the screen of the increasingly ubiquitous cellphone or tablet.

And even though we believe that print newspapers will be with us in one form or another for a long time to come, we would be avoiding the certainty of change if we didn’t move into the inevitability of a digitized future.

That’s why the results of Lee’s statistical detective work were so pleasantly remarkable, and the impending changes imbedded in them so exciting.

A bit of background: Joyce, Lee and I are the product of print journalism. Now, the processes involved with news reporting that we assumed in our early days would be around forever, have taken a nearly 180-degree turn. That, of course, being the global conversion of media sources that continues to accelerate into the realm of technology.

As for us, I suppose you could say we’re somewhat sad to see those days of old fade into memory. But at the same time we’re excited about the new opportunities that 21st-century tools offer us as reporters and editors.

Which again, full circle, leads to the steps we’ve taken to assure our continuing days as a community newspaper and to be a knowledgeable, eager proponent of both print and digital publishing.

What’s your QR IQ? Well, pretty high if you lassoed our website like a Wrangler!

Lee’s numbers—and he tapped into the best analytical sources available to our industry—show that more and more of our Wrangler News readers have moved to the cyber world, to follow events within days, hours or even minutes after they’re reported, not every couple of weeks as we do with our still-popular, still eagerly awaited print editions.

That is not in danger of going away, just as our commitment to community news and features is here to stay.

Here’s why we’re newly energized with what Lee’s studies have shown:

  • Our latest reported page views, through Dec. 15, had nearly doubled those of November, which in turn were up 170 percent over the previous 30 days.
  • The length of time that viewers are staying with a story also is on the rise, and seems to be increasing weekly. Similar growth is also being recorded on our Facebook page.

Most important of all, you are engaging with us on our website and social media platforms. We appreciate your shares, likes and comments, and encourage you to interact with us. And, of course, we hope you’ll not only continue to look to Wrangler News as your source of neighborhood news but tell the businesses you patronize about us and our three decades of serving this community. And we hope that our current and potential advertisers take note of our increased reach into our educated, affluent market. That advertising support is what enables us to continue serving you.

Don Kirkland
Don Kirkland realized in elementary school that his future would revolve around the written word. His first newspaper job was with a small L.A.-area daily whose publisher demanded the kind of journalistic integrity that ultimately led him to be the admired press director for both a governor and a U.S. President. Don later was employed by Times-Mirror Corp. and, in Arizona, was executive editor of the Mesa Tribune after its purchase by a major East Coast chain. He founded Wrangler News 30 years ago and has dedicated his work to preserving the vital role of community newspapers.

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