By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)
Taking the road less traveled can lead to some innovative approaches to successful news sites. Some fiercely independent news organizations have opted for their own unique style and hyperlocal flavor, instead of the cookie-cutter designs that are available from the usual providers. Their strong sense of individualistic identity has helped differentiate them from others, and carve out a niche that serves an unmet need.
Rather than going where everyone else does for news coverage, you might want to get off the beaten path and try researching publications in the 10 least populous states, who have some of the most interesting sites, with a long history and fun, innovative designs. Some of the least populous states have some of the most affluent and influential community newspaper readers.
Here are 20 great independently owned news sites in the 10 least populous states, all supported by local advertising, in the wealthiest and most populous communities within those states:
Located in the state Capitol, this is the flagship publication, of nine newspapers published by the Newspapers of New England. The Monitor has several times been named one of the best small papers in America and has won a Pulitzer Prize.
Jody Reese founded the Hippo as a Web site, in 2000 in his living room in Nashua, N.H. The Hippo is New Hampshire’s largest circulation weekday publication with a net circulation exceeding 34,000. It is distributed throughout southern New Hampshire at more than 1,000 locations. The paper averages 52 to 88 pages each week.
This is a free weekly newspaper devoted to the interests of Lake Winnipesaukee and vicinity, featuring stories about local personalities, businesses, and in-depth and entertaining pieces about the fascinating history of New Hampshire. It has over 30,000 weekly readers in the central and eastern regions of the state
The history of the Bangor Daily News reflects the history and strong values of the state of Maine. Parent company Bangor Publishing Company is a family-owned business now in its fourth generation of ownership. Here is their very strong mission statement:
“The NEWS will keep right on doing what it has done, standing up for the right and fighting the wrong, even if the right happens to be the underdog as is so apt to be the case, defending the
downtrodden, and advocating with all its might the best interest of Bangor and Eastern Maine. More than all that, it will continue to give all the news of the day every day, without fear or favor.”
This is one of a family of nine newspapers designed for the community to rely on and trust to inform, challenge and reflect the communities they serve.
For women, by women, this beautifully designed magazine has great features, columns, art, photos and more in each issue.
7-Mountain Times/Outer Limits Publishing
This family owned newspaper has a dozen affiliated publications. The fifth generation of ownership has invested in redesigning to make it young and fun to help build the Killington community they serve, and live in.
The Valley Breeze is a free weekly newspaper that reaches more families in northern Rhode Island than any other paper - by far. It is locally owned, and is one of the five Breeze Publications.
This is the only newspaper published on the island, a popular tourist destination. It was originally a family owned, summer only publication and has grown to a full-year publication, over the years.
This 3rd generation family owned company publishes seven weekly newspapers in Eastern Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. The company’s flagship paper is the Bristol Phoenix.
The motto of this publication is “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. Highly detailed, very helpful instructions, for writing and submitting a press release, are included on the contact page.
12-Morning Star Publications
The owners of these publications and a few others, are Republican State Senator Bryant Richardson and his wife, Carol.
Here is their mission statement, and more fun stuff: “The Local Rag provides you with the localest content available! We do not cater to tourists and visitors (although they’re welcome, of course!). We’re here for YOU: our locals! The Local Rag is locally owned and locally operated. Note for the
Humor-Impaired: The staff of the Local Rag would like to offer you a friendly reminder that when you see something labeled Believe it or Not, it’s a good idea to bet on “not.” Disclaimer: No interns or squirrels were harmed in the production of this newspaper. Our computers run on 100% recycled electrons.”
In addition to The Courier, which is family owned, publications of this publisher include The Dakota Action Rocket, which is a supplement to The Courier and 18 other weeklies in southcentral and southeastern South Dakota; and The Area Wide Connection, which is mailed to boxholders and rural routes in a 25-mile radius of Freeman, with a distribution of about 6,700.
This extremely user friendly publication, nearly 150 years young, serves over 2,000 people in five municipalities in Clark County and has a detailed FAQ section which anticipates and helps answer nearly every issue.
Based in the largest county in North Dakota, this publications serves 10 cities. News of local sports, events and businesses are prominently displayed on this site.
This publications serves 18 communities and the site includes a section devoted to veterans of Wells County.
his local family owned newspaper includes a beautifully illustrated visitors guide on the site with this important statement: “Sitka prides itself as a center for education and health care and as a world-class fishing port. Add to that the historic heritage from the two eventful centuries since the Russians came, and from untold centuries of Native culture. It is a town where neighbors watch out for each other. We care about visitors, and we care about the impression they will take away from our town.”
This newspaper serves the gateway to the Klondike. Situated on a picturesque street in the historic district, the office is in the 1899 restored building as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. The site includes some great photos and a dining guide.
This family owned publication includes photos of about 20 people on the staff with this message: “We proudly publish our phone number! Call us! Or, stop in and say hello!” There is a button for the opinion section front and center on the home page.
These charming sites are just a few of thousands more like these, nationwide, making up a vibrant patchwork of American communities. Small town publications like these are the backbone of our civilization. If you can get attention for your message in these trusted local news sites, you can more easily win people’s hearts and minds.