By BILL SHUMWAY
Thanks to readers and advertisers in St. Lawrence County communities all along the Seaway, the Massena-Ogdensburg edition of North Country This Week is celebrating its first anniversary this week.
Since the first issue hit the streets on May 3, 2013, an average of 8,038 copies of the new paper are now read in print or online each week.
“We thank our advertisers and business partners who have trusted us with their marketing, by investing in both editions of North Country This Week and our 24/7 website NorthCountryNow.com,” said newspaper veteran Sean McNamara of Ogdensburg, who handles advertising sales and circulation issues for the paper.
The Massena-Ogdensburg edition also employs other long-time residents of the Seaway Valley. Associate Editor Jimmy Lawton of Lisbon recently began reporting on Ogdensburg City Council issues, and Assistant Editor Andy Gardner of Massena covers the Massena village, town, school and hospital boards.
They, along with more than a dozen other employees in our Potsdam office, work hard each week to produce a weekly paper that we hope Massena-Ogdensburg area readers enjoy, rely on and keep for much of the week.
Founded 30 Years Ago
The Massena-Ogdensburg edition was started in response to numerous requests over the years. Readers from Massena and Ogdensburg yearned for a paper similar to the original Potsdam-Canton edition of North Country This Week that was founded 30 years ago. And businesspeople expressed a desire for the same cost-effective advertising in Massena and Ogdensburg that North Country This Week had become known for elsewhere in St. Lawrence County.
Before the Massena-Ogdensburg edition debuted, many in the Seaway Valley were already familiar with NorthCountryNow.com, which is updated many times every day of the year by the same staff that produces North Country This Week.
And despite the fact NorthCountryNow.com is St. Lawrence County’s #1 source for local news and information, we decided to create the Massena-Ogdensburg edition of North Country This Week because we strongly believe in the benefits and value of print publications.
Even though many daily newspapers in large, metropolitan areas are “dying,” we think there is a strong future for free, local weekly newspapers, especially when paired with a frequently updated website.
Value of Newspapers
For advertisers, weekly papers provide real value that other media can’t provide. Internet ads essentially act as “billboards” seen by thousands of people and are great at building “top of mind” awareness for advertisers. They also allow motivated potential customers to “click through” to get more information on a website.
But ads in in papers like North Country This Week provide the space necessary to “draw a reader in” so that businesses and organizations can “tell a story” and thoroughly describe the benefits of the goods or services being advertised. That dramatically increases the chance that potential customers will follow through and make a purchase.
Because so many people pick up free local weekly newspapers, the number of readers who see the ads far exceeds that delivered by paid papers, radio or cable TV, delivering better results for advertisers.
Some say people don’t read print anymore because everything is online. We just don’t buy that.
Our proof – even though digital e-books are readily available, the vast majority of college students still choose printed textbooks, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. We are convinced most people are glad to read print publications but they just don’t want to pay for them.
Finally, while fans of banner ads like to tout large amounts of page views and unique visitors, they often don’t realize the tremendous numbers who read free weekly papers.
For example, more than 40,000 people read North Country This Week each week. In addition to 8,038 copies of the Massena-Ogdensburg edition, another 11,121 copies of the Potsdam-Canton edition are read, for a total of 19,159 weekly, according to the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Missouri, which conducts a throughout review of our distribution records methods.
And when you take into account that 2.1 people on average read each paper, that translates into 40,234 people per week, making North Country This Week the “most-read paper in St. Lawrence County.”
Founded in Living Room
North Country This Week was founded in August 1984 in our living room in West Stockholm just outside of Potsdam. The drinking age was still 18 and half the paper’s distribution was on college campuses, readily picked up by students primarily interested in area entertainment listings and coupons.
When the drinking age increased to 21 in the late 1980s, we switched our focus to community news after many of the bars and beer distributors stopped advertising.
The paper was readily accepted by Potsdam and Canton residents, and in 1997, free home delivery to virtually every household in Potsdam, Norwood, Hannawa Falls and West Stockholm began.
Over the years, North Country This Week has been honored by the New York Press Association. Competing with other weekly papers and small dailies from the Hamptons on Long Island to the suburbs of Buffalo, North Country This Week has received scores of awards from the association for quality ad layout and design.
But none of it would have been possible without our loyal readers, advertisers and employees. Thank you all.