Reflections from resurrecting the local news
By Andrew Harris, photo by Mel Hunt
Our first day of work started on February 28, 2021, and we have published some sort of news or information or special interest piece every day since. Two years later, we are approaching ten million site views. Thank you for reading, whether it is once a month or three times per day.
I could wax and wane about the twenty four months using poetic phrases and glowing reports and funny stories. But I will spare you, and address this second anniversary of the Wellsville Sun “spaghetti Western” style; enter “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:”
The real good in this has been the big picture, providing something that people really need, and it isn’t just news. Communities need a place to announce an event, families need a place to publicly announce a death, businesses need to advertise for the next sale, and readers need to have the ability to react to news. These basic services that the Sun provides have quickly become part of daily life for many and the hope is we expand on that notion. After all, the Wellsville Sun is a direct reaction to the loss of the daily newspaper.
Our sponsors, most of them have backed our efforts for nearly our entire existence, are the reason this site exisits. They jumped on a new opportunity before it was reaching thousands of eyeballs per day to help preserve the concept of “local news.” Because of that investment we’ve been able to grow from 100,000 viewers per month to 650,000 per month. While advancing their own brands and interests, they have made the Wellsville Sun one of the most impactful places to advertise in the region. With the support of our local partners like Fassett Lane Lumber, we can provide news and information without a paywall or subscription or Google pop up ads. When you see an ad on our site, please consider supporting that business. If you have an advertising budget and aren’t currently advertising, contact us anytime to talk about how we can work together toward mutual success.
The other great thing about this is how the Sun has grown from one guy trying to figure out how to run a news site into having a great support system. Of course John Anderson has made a tremendous impact. Since Anderson lent his expertise to our work, the site has tripled in daily readers. In 2022, the website registered six million views, an average of over 16,000 per day. Without Andersons social media saavy, massive network of media professionals, and competitive drive….. the Wellsville Sun would be a much less interesting place.
Michael T. Baldwin, who was our direct predecessor with his popular Wellsville Regional News Network, has also been very generous. Even though he is really trying to retire from a career as a newsman, “Michael T,” still helps out almost everyday and often breaks news hours before other media professionals. Reporting the news is in his DNA and it is great to have him help us keep you informed.
Chris Brooks, the Sports Editor at WellsvilleSports.com has allowed us to cover many local sports, capture pictures of young athletes, and lock those memories into history. We hope to continue this relationship with Brooks and we already have an archive of high school sports coverage and photos that we all hope lasts “forever.”
Chuck Wiser, Bob Confer, Mary Gardner-Ruch, Dan Jordan, Kathryn Ross, Bob Lonsberry, Sean Hyland, Mel Hunt, and many others who take the time to pen a Letter to the Editor: Thank you for making this site dynamic, informative, and open to all.
This is time consuming work and an occupation that really never stops, in fact the work snowballs. As a child of the pandemic, the Wellsville Sun works from home and does lots of business remotely. I suspect it will stay that way. This, like many have found out, isn’t as ideal as it might seem. I often find myself longing for the standard American work day on Main Street Wellsville that Oak Duke enjoyed. I’m sure he is a little bit envious that I can edit mistakes and make corrections without “halting the presses.”
Obituaries and death in general, is an interesting and nearly daily part of the job. Working with local funeral homes to present a respectful, new age version of the obituary is rewarding but also brings plenty of unexpected sadness.
Fatal house fires, car wrecks, or other unexpected tragedies are major news stories. These stories make our site wildly popular and more valuable. What a strange business; benefiting from unfortunate events, dramatic injuries, crime, and death. The nature of this “beast” is that one day you are promoting youth sports and the next day a story about a young family losing everything in a fire. A thousand people read the story about a great varsity game, and forty thousand read the story about the house fire.
Over the course of a few years in this business, you end up taking some grief. Sometimes that constructive criticism is spot-on, and also instructive. Sometimes it is really unstable people who don’t have much to do but argue or threaten or harass. Similar to operating a tavern, the local news is where people come to air gripes and seek discussion. I’m well versed in that, but being harassed or threatened is a real downside to this gig. Luckily, no one has gotten arrested, yet….
The other downside, which is across many small businesses, is money, or lackthereof. In order to keep our advertising prices well below the competition, everyone who contributes to this website earns part-time wages, or contributes without any pay. The age old struggle of feeling underpaid and sometimes even stiffed, is an ugly distraction from the work. Luckily my dear mother, Jeanne Harris, handles much of our the behind-the-scenes office work that this business creates.
Thank you readers
Thanks again for reading, contributing, and sharing our news on Facebook. Our “no paywall, no pop-up ads,” relies on our limited number of advertising partners and reader contributions. Do you want to support our efforts to keep the local news alive in Allegany County ? Our Paypal is always open and you can send financial support via check to 3 Meadowbrook Court, Wellsville NY 14895. It is not a stretch to say that “every dollar makes a difference.”