I love my job.
The fact that it is fast approaching 2 a.m., and I’m still at work should be a little proof that the statement is a true one.
Being publisher of Blount Today and working with this team of talented folks here is indeed a privilege. When asked if I would show up for work if I won a big, fat lottery, I can truthfully say that -- after an hour or two to visit my lawyer -- I would.
Working with the incredible team is just one of the reasons I enjoy what I do. The other is that I wholeheartedly believe in what we are doing in Blount County. I believe we make a difference. I believe we serve this community -- both editorially and in advertising. I believe we make our readers happy and showcase our community for the incredible place that it is.
I tell you all this so that you will know that everything you read from this point on can be colored with the brush of prejudice that comes with truly believing in what you do. You can ignore it, if you like. I hope you won’t.
The news, blogs (they aren’t the same), radio, television and talk shows are all discussing the “demise” of the newspaper. I have received so many emails on why print journalism is the next dinosaur that I don’t even read them anymore. Perhaps to my future determent, I also don’t believe them.
I have been in print journalism all my life, so perhaps you can say that it is just a stubborn refusal to accept the demise of something that is part of the fabric of my being. But I am not drawing my conclusions from my own feelings about newspapers. I am drawing them from you, Blount Today readers.
If we are not important to you, why does the stack of papers I put outside our little office in Maryville on Thursday morning disappear by 3 p.m.? If we are not important to you, why do I currently have “14 unplayed messages” on my office voice mail? I know I am two days behind, but I also know that most of those messages will be requests for Blount Today to come cover or sponsor an event or a request for a back issue.
If we are not important to you, why have you taken the time to share more than 2,000 photos on our Snapshots page over the past four years? If we are not important to you, why do you tell me, every time and all the time, how much you look forward to our next paper, how you keep each week’s paper until the next one comes out -- and sometimes beyond?
If we are not important to you, why -- even after we have changed our distribution -- do more than 10,000 of you who aren’t one of the 11,000 who receive Blount Today at your home or office still find one of our racks and pick up a paper each and every week?
I think we are important to you. Through no special talent or genius on our part, we touch your lives with a snapshot of our community. You find your community leaders, your neighbors, your schools, your favorite charities, your sports, your clubs, your issues and yourself in Blount Today and that speaks to you.
We will be 5 years old in August. In those five years, we have stayed true to the mission I accepted when I walked in the door: to reflect and to serve the people and businesses of this county. We are Committed to Community, and it shapes every decision we make.
Our website -- which is supposed to be the new enemy of print -- is doing well, too. Our “hits” still continue to grow each month. Our website advertising is getting results for those businesses that desire traffic to their websites. A community service ad we placed in one of our banner spots for Tremont in February directed 91 people to the Tremont website in its first month.
If you want to help us -- since I don’t think we’re getting a stimulus check -- here’s what you can do:
1. Subscribe to Blount Today. We are building our paid subscription base in addition to our free racks, and you can receive Blount Today through the mail for $31.20 per year. Call our office (865-981-9101) or shoot me an email (gardner@BlountToday.com), and we can take your credit card information over the phone or tell you where to mail a check.
2. Shop at businesses that advertise in Blount Today and tell them you saw their ad in our newspaper.
3. Continue to send us your announcements, photographs, requests for coverage and news items.
4. Read and advertise in Blount Today. Tell your neighbors what a great paper this is, and pass it on.
In conclusion, it’s not time for this team to go home. (Well, it may be tonight, as it is now past 3…) I can’t tell you that in 20 years, your grandchildren will be standing at the door, waiting for my grandchildren to drop the newest bundle of Blount Today papers in the rack. But I can tell you that today, now, in this community, print rules. Why? Because you like it, and you want it, and it’s important to you.
And, at Blount Today, it always has been and always will be all about you -- our readers, our advertisers, our community.