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Your Alpena News is just as relevant as ever

Relevance is important in my line of work.

That is why the team here at The News always is working hard to keep you informed with information that is important for all of us.

Did you know that, last year, the local news reporters produced over 3,000 pieces of local news — which included things like stories, photographs, and news briefs? Looking at just the three main reporters — Steve Schulwitz, Crystal Nelson, and Julie Riddle — they produced 1,110 stories, 1,056 photographs, 648 briefs, and 91 in-depth — known to journalists as “enterprise” — projects.

Those numbers do not include the contributions of a summer intern we had or two other reporters who no longer work here.

They also do not include the local story contributions of James Andersen, sports editor, or Darby Hinkley, Lifestyles editor. Nor do they include any of the many local columnists on our editorial page each week.

Roll all those groups together and the numbers above more than double.

I think that’s pretty impressive, but the numbers don’t stop there.

Since the invention of the television, people have written obituaries about the future of newspapers. And, while it certainly is true that the newspaper business is tougher than ever these days, the truth remains that newspapers that focus on strong community reporting — like what we have here in Northeast Michigan with The Alpena News — stand a much better chance of survival.

Yes, our circulation numbers have decreased over the years. When you look at the demographics of the region, and the percentage of residents older than 65 living here, that statement shouldn’t surprise anyone.

However, when you look at readership — the numbers of people reading your newspaper — and add internet viewers of the newspaper to the discussion, then, in actuality, more people are seeing the newspaper every day than who saw it 10 years ago.

In 2020, over 9 million page views occurred at our website alone — a staggering number by anyone’s standards.

Personally, I enjoy the enterprise reporting our staff does, like the Digital Divide series we just completed that examined the lack of internet service to rural areas of Michigan, such as ours.

What I have learned is that, if it is a good community story from our region, then it is likely to be well-received and read by our subscribers.

The most-read story from last year was actually a piece on Lincoln Manor being infested with bed bugs, reported on by Nelson. In fact, of the top five stories of 2020, three of the five dealt with that issue. The other two were the Polluch brothers’ murder-suicide barn fire, and, as infections increased across the region, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extended shutdown of businesses.

Other pieces, like the local waitress who received a $2,020 tip or the fire that claimed the John A. Lau Saloon, finished in the top 10 of the most-read pieces this past year.

So, if you were to ask me whether I believe a newspaper is still relevant as a news source for Northeast Michigan, you better believe my answer is quickly “yes.”

And I don’t just say that based on emotion.

I also have the facts and statistics to quickly back that statement up.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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