Have you ever seen Fever Pitch? The Farrelly Brothers Red Sox comedy is on my “I miss Boston” movie list, which also includes the obscure Second Sight starring John Larroquette and Bronson Pinchot, the 1975 World Series DVD and filmed-in-Boston Police Academy 4: Citizen on Patrol.
When the loveable Red Sox-obsessed Ben (played by Jimmy Falon) invites Lindsey (Drew Barrymore) to her first Red Sox game, he says one of the reasons why he’s always loved baseball is “You can have a lucky day, sure, but you can't have a lucky career. It's a little like math. It's orderly. Win or lose, it's fair. It all adds up.”
For Ben, and every other baseball fan on the planet, statistics tell us who is had a great season and who didn’t because we have over a hundred games to look at. Sure, a player might have a good game here or there, but a player’s true measure is his seasonal and career stats.
This was the motivation behind my compiling statistics on all Kiowa County Signals published in 2012.
I set ambitious goals for the newspaper last year. I wanted to be more inclusive of the county as a whole. I wanted to focus on community events and local government. I also wanted the paper to look good and continue its “ultra-local” focus.
To find out if I reached those goals, I had to look at the annual numbers. Pick up a single copy of The Signal and there might be a lot of photos and local stories, but the true measure is found from a 52-week analysis.
I’ve also included statistics from 2011. This provided a frame of reference that helped me compare and contrast certain aspects of the paper. It is not a judgment call on previous editors or previous years of the newspaper, on the contrary 2011 was a transitional year for the paper and so perhaps the numbers are a bit lower than average.
Lets take a look at some of more interesting statistics from last year.
The first thing I noticed was the 50 percent cover story statistic.
I think a small town newspaper should be able to cover a wide variety of topics and be diverse. I hoped to feature community stories and “hard” news stories equally, but I didn’t think it would be that equal.
Reporting on news and local government is a very important part of the job, but some of my favorite stores from last year were community features. The pinewood derby, Jack Carson’s collapsible cup collection and story about Jean Harlow’s Haviland ancestry were some of my favorites.
Page 2 of 4 - Say Cheese
It is mind boggling to me that nearly 800 local photos were published in The Signal last year. That is more than 15 local photos per week on average.
Those numbers include photos of check donations, photos that accompanied stories and large photo sections like homecoming, the 5-year anniversary weekend, Halloween and Christmas and doesn’t include stock photos or wire photos.
I was also curious about how many total photos I might have taken last year. My memory card file counter rolls over every 9,999 photos and last year it rolled over twice. I probably took nearly 18,000 photos last year.
About 8-10 percent of published photos were reader submitted and I’d like to see that number increase next year.
What is in a Dateline?
The place where a story happens, or a “dateline,” can track the breadth of news coverage. While there is always room for improvement, I am very happy with the amount of countywide stories we were able to cover this year.
I went where the stories took me and I am glad they took me to all of the towns in the county, even Belvedere and Wellsford!
While it may look like Greensburg was the overwhelming focus of stories, it is the county seat and the location of the high school, which can skew the numbers a bit.
I also want to explain the “other” dateline statistic. This statistic tracks the stories we ran about the people and businesses of Kiowa County and their impact on other communities. Those stories were as varied as an out-of-town sporting event, a college achievement or members of our community doing meaningful things in other cities and towns.
A Community on Notice
We were able to publish 257 free community notices last year. Those notices are for non-profit or “community focused” events. Whether it was a fundraiser to pay a loved one’s medical bills, a Red Cross blood drive or to celebrate a birthday or wedding anniversary, these notices helped keep people in touch with each other. We were able to publish these notices in large part thanks to the support of our paid advertisers.
Keep the Faith and Values
Another goal was to have local content on our Faith & Values page every week. We ran 49 weeks of content from local pastors and members of our local faith-community last year. Terry Mayhew almost single handedly authored that page and as a community we should thank him for his hard work. Jeff Blackburn, Donnie Hinshaw and Fred Weir were all contributors as well. I’d like to see more members of our church community contribute on a regular basis and maybe that will happen this year.
Page 3 of 4 - Overall, The Signal moved in a positive direction last year and I am looking towards 2013, hoping to improve on the 2012 numbers. I want The Signal to always be at the forefront of local issues and events.
While The Signal is not who I am, it is what I do and I am very proud of my professional achievements last year. I am grateful for the members of the community that have embraced me.
I am also grateful for the people who still see the need for a community newspaper in Kiowa County. Many towns have lost their local newspapers and it is a testament to you, that The Signal is still here, going strong.
I am looking forward to another wonderful year serving the people of Kiowa County.
Where will my stories take me this year?
By-the-Numbers; Kiowa County Signal, 2012
26 Cover stories focusing on “hard news,” including local government, emergency and election news stories.
26 Cover stories focusing on “community” features, including people, businesses and community events in Kiowa County.
32 Cover stories focusing on “community” features, including people, businesses and community events in Kiowa County.
20 Cover stories focusing on “hard news,” including local government, emergency and election news stories.
Local Story Datelines
77 Greensburg (Jan-July)
71 Greensburg (Aug-Dec)
97 Kiowa County
16 Kiowa County (Jan-July)
24 Kiowa County (Aug-Dec)
11 Haviland (Jan-July)
22 Haviland (Aug-Dec)
1 Mullinville (Jan-July)
9 Mullinville (Aug-Dec)
17 Other (Jan-July)
23 Other (Aug-Dec)
2012 - 799 Local photos published.
133 Local photos published (Jan-July)
242 Local photos published (Aug-Dec)
2012 - 257 Free community notices.
231 Free community notices
2012 - 335 Local stories about people, places, things and events in Kiowa County.
119 Kansas or national stories.
137 Local stories about people, places, things and events in Kiowa County. (Jan-July)
Page 4 of 4 - 145 Local stories about people, places, things and events in Kiowa County. (Aug-Dec)
77 Kansas or national stories. (Jan-July)
34 Kansas or national stories. (Aug-Dec)
49 Weeks with local content on our Faith and Values Page.
249,000 Page views on KiowaCountySignal.com
32 Percent of visitors to KiowaCountysignal.com used a mobile device.
Top On-Line Stories of 2012
#1 “Greensburg couple arrested for suspected marijuana cultivation.”
#2 “Mullinville gets temp. order, Liggett must remove trailers within 30 days.”
#3 “Local man killed by passing train.”
Top On-Line Photo Galleries of 2012
#1 “Trunk of Treat in Greensburg”
#2 “Kiowa County Mavericks vs. Attica Bulldogs”
#3 “Haviland play day”
Lots of Literate Alliteration
Catchiest headlines from 2012
“Problem pets plague public officials” (Jan. 4)
“Kinsley kings Kiowa County” (Jan. 18)
“Committee collects kids contacts for commemorative calendar.” (Jan 25)
“Brainiacs bronze at bowl.” (Jan. 25)
“Dean double-dips division wins.” (Feb. 22)
“Best Best Western in Kansas better than rest.” (Feb. 29)
“Fish fry will fund Pennies’ purse” (Mar. 7)
“Kiowa County’s Carpenters and Harlow’s Haviland history.”
“Seniors sup at center’s sneak peek pizza party.” (Mar. 28)
“Sixteen-sided stable to celebrate September centennial in style.” (Aug. 8)
“Haviland History helps, has home at Heart.” (Oct. 10)
“Chimps check champ chance; Gorillas make like a banana, split Mavs in una’peel’ing finale.” (Oct. 31)