Local newspapers take time to note 'Progress' of Nevada and Fort Scott

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's often difficult for people to take time to take stock of their accomplishments and what lies ahead. The same is true for business and communities as a whole. That's why The Fort Scott Tribune and Nevada Daily Mail publish a Progress edition every year. "We have published a Progress edition for decades. We believe it's very important at least once a year to take the time to promote the successes in our communities and to focus on what has been accomplished," said Julie Simpson, publisher of The Fort Scott Tribune and Nevada Daily Mail. "Sometimes it's just a matter of acknowledging a longtime or multi-generational business. In this economy, that is a huge success story!"

Stories in the annual Progress edition promote businesses -- for-profit and not-for profit -- in both communities and highlight goals that have been achieved and goals for the coming year. Local business people have the opportunity to tell their own stories and advertise their products and services, giving readers a chance to learn interesting and unusual details they might otherwise never know.

"Having spent so much time in both Fort Scott and Nevada, it's easy to see that both communities are active and progressive. That's why we take a look at what's been accomplished and what's ahead," said Simpson, who is also publisher of the Weekend Herald-Tribune, Nevada News, Fort Scott Countryside and She and Ageless magazines.

Additionally, Simpson, who will mark seven years as publisher this March, directs the Nevada News Print Shop, the Web Division (which prints multiple outside newspapers), two websites and four Facebook pages. The production facility is open 24 hours a day, five days a week.

"We've continued to grow as a company in both size and scope. We've worked very hard the past 12 months. 2011 was a year of building. And we have a lot of exciting projects coming up this year," Simpson said.

Press units will be added at the Nevada production facility to enhance color capability for the newspapers and inserts that are printed on site. "We're very excited about that," Simpson said. "That will be taking place in the next month or two; our readers will see the results very soon.

"The expanded capabilities will enhance the look of our products, which in turn enhance the look of the communities we serve. We will be able to offer more color options to our advertisers as well as to our outside print customers."

Also in the next month or two, new software never before used by any newspaper in the country will be coming to the newspapers. "We'll be telling our readers more about that as it comes. That enhancement has been over a year in the making. It will make paginating a newspaper much easier," Simpson said.

One of the biggest missions for the company this year is "working with our communities and developing stronger ties and greater visibility in terms of really working to promote literacy through the newspaper," she said.

"We have a new staff member, Marcia Lawrence, who is working with our schools and libraries to develop a strong and relevant Newspapers in Education program," Simpson said. "Shining the spotlight on enhancing young readers' ability to comprehend what they see in print is a vital part of our mission in our local communities."

Many readers have seen the Patriotic Pals series -- a tip of the hat to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War -- running in The Tribune and the Daily Mail. With NIE Week coming up the first week of March, editorials will celebrate the impact and improvement that newspapers have made in the lives of students.

"We want to remind people of the fundamental value of reading," Simpson said. "Not only does it impact your everyday life, it impacts your education; it impacts your ability to do your job" and the ability to change your life and improve your community.

"You have to know what's going on in your community to effect change," Simpson said.

Especially because 2012 is an election year, she wants to remind people how important reading a newspaper is to everyone. Newspapers allow for longer articles, more details, more debate and can better flesh out the pros and cons of each issue than other media.

"Expanding our newspapers' presence to the digital world with Web sites and Facebook pages also promotes the First Amendment rights of our wider community, by providing forums for readers to comment on news stories," Simpson noted. "We are vitally interested in what our readers have to say. Daily, editorial decisions are influenced by our readers' input."

The magazines, She and Ageless, continue to be successful and strong. Both won national awards last year, and now have a circulation of 4,000 each, which represents a 60 percent increase for She.

"People really clamor for our magazines. They love the local content, so we increased the numbers this year," Simpson said.

Simpson emphasized she is very proud of her staff. Reporter Rusty Murry was honored with an award from the Missouri Police Chiefs Association last year, and photographer Ralph Pokorny won an award from the Missouri Press Association in 2011.

Along with Lawrence, the new marketer, Angelique McNaughton has joined The Fort Scott Tribune as a reporter and Jason Peake, sports reporter in Nevada, came on board in 2011. Also new to the organization in 2011 are Fort Scott Advertising Consultant MaryJo Bolerjack, Fort Scott Editorial Assistant Janice Fewins, Jean Smith in the composition department, Linda Shankel at the front desk in Nevada. Also mailroom employees Gloria Johnson, Chris Morris, Jonathan Ashby and Robert Doyle.

Simpson said Lawrence is helping the organization become even more active in the community, promoting the organization's commitment to "think local."

McNaughton, a recent University of Kansas journalism graduate, brings a fresh voice to community reporting.

Peake is establishing a name for himself with great local sports coverage.

"We couldn't be happier with our new staff members, who have shown great professionalism in the field," Simpson said.

Simpson said a big surprise is in store for readers in the coming weeks. "We will affirm our dedication to local community journalism in a whole new way," she said.

"Looking a bit further into the future, we will celebrate 130 years of reporting the news in Nevada in 2013. And the following year, 2014, will mark 130 years in Fort Scott."