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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK: The expansion of paper

Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 10:30 am

I was standing in line at the Kangaroo gas station Wednesday when I heard music to my ears.

“I got a text message that said Manchester was going to make Sudafed prescription only.”

josh petersonKnowing that I just sent out a mass news text message saying just that earlier that day, I was intrigued. I looked up to see it was the cashier talking to a co-worker.

Just to make sure I knew the source of his information, when I got to the front of the line I asked, “Where did you get that text from?”

His answer was exactly what I expected.

“Umm, from the Manchester Times, I think.”

Eventually, my goal is to take the “I think” out of that sentence. I want everyone to know exactly where their news is coming from. Chances are, whether in print, online, through a text, tweet or Facebook update, the news comes from us. But nonetheless, it was refreshing to know that we are spreading the news on multiple fronts.

I bet some of you didn’t know we even had a text service.

We have well over 1,000 people signed up for our text alerts. I’m not here to tell you to run and sign up. But I think it’s important that you know it is one of the many ways we are able to push our news out to the public. That is our goal, after all.

This week we are revamping that platform just a little bit to better serve you. Starting today (Wednesday) I am changing the way we send out our text alerts. Before, we just kind of sent out our text messages as we saw fit and as it came across our minds. Admittedly, we didn’t make it a priority. Of course when you have Twitter, Facebook, a website and print product to produce, sometimes text messaging escapes the mind. But my conversation with that gentleman in line at Kangaroo reinforced to me how important all of our news platforms are. Now we are scheduling our text messages to include a daily news update each day no later than noon and two sports updates, a morning update and an evening update.

Don’t worry. If you don’t like sports you don’t have to sign up for those alerts. That’s the beauty of our text alert system. It’s customizable to fit the type of news you want to receive. You can select to receive sports only, news only, breaking news only, school closings, weather or you can select them all. We generally provide links back to our website where you can find more in-depth coverage than our 160 character texts.

Contrary to popular belief, the newspaper industry is not dying. Evolving to fit the modern climate? Sure. Our text alerts are a symbol of that evolution. The fact is, more people read the Manchester Times today than ever before. Our print circulation remains strong at 6,000 per week but our web presence allows us to reach more readers than ever before. In July alone, we averaged 3,323 visitors per day (no, not hits because that number isn’t the measuring stick). We also had 39,226 unique IP addresses visit our site and 27,746 page views per day. Some will tell you that the internet is killing newspapers. Quite the contrary. The internet is reinventing newspapers.

Will newspapers eventually stop being printed on paper? At some point, probably, but that point is nowhere on our radar. Community newspapers are strong and it’s because of our readers on both our website and our print product.

The Manchester Times – and all newspapers really – is more than ink on paper now. We are a news organization that presents news to the public on multiple fronts. But one thing remains the same – we are as dedicated as ever to getting the news to you as accurately and efficiently as possible.

-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He has won Tennessee Press Association awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at mailto: or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29