When my wife Robin and I took ownership of the Lincoln County Record in March 2020, I listed three reasons why we made the decision to take over the paper.
- The Record still serves an important role in the county.
- This pandemic (hopefully) won’t last forever.
- Community news organizations can be successful.
I still think those statements are true, though I wouldn’t blame you for pushing back on reason number two.
We are grateful to all those who contribute to producing a paper each week – Robin Rowley, who keeps us organized; Associate Editor Collin Anderson, who writes, designs and delivers the paper; writers Dave Maxwell, Mary Cordle, Rex Rasmussen and Natalie Wadsworth; copy editor Margarita Martinez; our printers at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Holton Truck Lines, who get the papers to Lincoln County each week.
It takes a great deal of energy, coordination and capital to make this happen. The economics of a community newspaper are tricky, and your continued support as paying readers and advertisers is what makes the effort viable. Operations have remained steady at the Record after we made some initial changes. We significantly adjusted our out-of-county subscription model and added digital subscription options to our website. In-county subscriptions are up, and digital subscriptions have steadily grown over the last year and a half.
As we look for ways to improve the paper, we turned to you, the readers, for feedback on what you’d like to see. A reader survey in September received excellent participation, with respondents spread evenly throughout the county, as well as around 20 percent from outside the area. Responses came from most adult age groups and were spread evenly between different types of subscriptions as well as those who pick up their copy at a store.
What we learned is that almost all readers look to the Lincoln County Record for local stories on topics including crime and law enforcement, elected board meetings, weather and road conditions, the economy, schools, elections, public lands and so on. Most readers also take time to browse obituaries, classifieds and legals in the paper.
Additionally, readers want the Record to provide features on local people and organizations in the county. Opinion articles, while read by many, are a lower priority, as are state, national and international issues, especially if there isn’t a direct county connection.
A wide range of comments was shared by participants. One theme was a desire for the Record to do better at previewing upcoming events with enough lead time and details. We were also admonished to provide more thorough reporting on important issues locals are grappling with. Others asked for more profiles on locals doing interesting things, including students. We also received several requests for police/arrest reports.
As we absorbed this helpful feedback, we’ve established several goals to respond to these requests:
– We will provide content that previews upcoming community events, including detailed information on where and when they are, how to get there and how to participate.
– We will improve our crime/law enforcement beat with more consistent arrest information, as well as in-depth reporting on crime trends and law enforcement efforts in our community.
– We will add more in-depth reporting on issues the county is grappling with and how decisions made by elected officials and others impact people.
– We will more consistently produce feature content on individuals and organizations doing interesting things in Lincoln County.
– Also, we will improve our digital platform, including design improvements to the website, LCCentral.com.
These efforts will take time and not be without challenges, but we hope by this time next year, when we do another readers survey, improvements will be evident and new goals will emerge.
As we move forward, know we are grateful for your continued support, which included many positive comments and kind words shared in the survey. Thank you! It truly is an honor to serve you and we’re glad you’re part of the journey.