Dear Readers for January 15, 2009

I have been looking for “green” everywhere I go in Blount County the past few weeks, and - hooray - I’m seeing lots of it!

No, I don’t have cabin fever that’s causing me to see mirages of leafy trees and plush lawns. The green I am looking for is a host of new Blount Today racks that are sprouting up all over town. It’s great to see, especially for you, our faithful readers.

As you know if you’ve been reading Dear Readers, Blount Today changed their distribution method on Jan. 8. We struck a deal with the Knoxville News Sentinel to deliver Blount Today inside the Sentinel on Fridays to all in Blount County who get a Sentinel. In addition to that, we wanted to make it easier for Blount County readers to find a copy of our newspaper. We stopped our driveway delivery in favor of the industry trend for community newspapers to offer the paper in racks all over the area. We had 77 rack locations previously, but only had approximately 2,500 papers to distribute to those racks.

If you’ve looked for a copy of Blount Today on a Saturday or Sunday, you know that our office is about the only place you could find one. And, honestly, there were weeks we ran out, too. It was frustrating, but, as we already had the largest circulation in Blount County, the economy and price of newsprint prevented us for just increasing our print run.

So, we adjusted, made some smart changes and now I’m loving the new “green” in Blount County. So far we have added 28 new rack locations with a dozen more waiting for confirmation. In addition, we are adding the Texaco stations in February. I hope to be in 140 locations with Blount Today racks by the end of March, plus what we continue to pick up with our News Sentinel partnership.

One of the good news things for us when we partnered with the Sentinel is that we were able to serve some readers who have been very faithful, but ignored. We get a lot of interest in Blount Today in Tellico Village and Rarity Bay. A lot of those residents love our Blount County restaurants, shops, golf courses and art venues. Blount Today keeps them informed on what’s going on in the county, so we hear regularly from them about their “hunt” for a copy on the weekends. With our new distribution, we are able to deliver Blount Today to Sentinel readers in those areas, and in Greenback. We are also looking at putting a rack or two in those areas.

As for home delivery, we are still working on that piece of the puzzle. We will be able to offer a subscription to Blount Today in the near future, but it has to be zip code specific to start with. Post office regulations - in order to get a price I can afford - dictate that I must have 200 per zip code before I begin. It’s not an insurmountable hurdle, just one that’s taking some time to work through. So, look for more on that as we get the kinks worked out.

In short, I am seeing some good things come from a bad economy. We are making adjustments that we might not have looked at before, and they are making us even better! With the changes we are making, we are able to give better service to our readers and keep our ad prices at our 2008 rate - something most newspapers have NOT been able to do. That’s important to us, being a small community newspaper, because we want to be good to you, our readers, and good to our advertisers, who pay the bills, especially when they are having lean times, too.

A listing of rack locations to date can be found in this issue on page 20. If you think you have a good location for a Blount Today rack, please call me at 981-9102 and give me a day to get back to you. I’m not in the office much these days. I’m out in the community, and I’m enjoying seeing all the new “green.”

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