By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Well, many of you know I really, really like gathering information and writing news stories about crime, cops, courts, fire, and what-have-you in greater Lewis County.
It’s something I’ve done here for more than a dozen years.
When I decided to launch an independent online-only news site, I was able to re-double my dedication to providing news that is accurate, timely, fair, balanced, and most of all, newsworthy.
I work hard to avoid disappointing my readers.
Often that means I’m punching away at the keyboard at 9 o’clock at night. Sometimes it means I set my alarm for 5 a.m.
It always means I ask myself, what do readers want to know about this? And I reach out to get answers; and confirm the “facts” that I’m not certain about.
Well, it’s been four years now.
Lewis County Sirens celebrates its four-year-anniversary this month.
I still enjoy very much getting up each morning and digging up what no other news outlet has found.
Sometimes it’s just a snippet, or a snapshot of the previous 24 hours as in Sharyn’s Sirens Roundup where you can read about select calls and encounters involving local police and fire departments.
Sometimes it’s in-depth coverage over time of a significant event: think John Booth triple murder on Wings Way, or Ronda Reynolds suicide or homicide with court case and coroner’s inquest, or Ronald Brady and the intruders outside his Onalaska house.
And then other times, it’s every kind of thing in between.
I don’t know who said it first, but it stuck in my mind; that news reporters are the ones who bring us the first draft of history. What a tremendous responsibility that is.
It’s been rewarding for me, and I’m pretty sure its been a refreshing bit of reading for many who live in, work in or care about this area.
I actually had 1,000 readers the same month I launched, June 2010. By the end of that year, Lewis County Sirens.com was approaching the circulation of the local daily newspaper here.
Twelve months later, my number of readers had more than tripled.
Today, Lewis County Sirens.com has well over 50,000 readers. That’s huge in a county with a population of somewhere around 75,000 people.
That’s more than five times the number of people who subscribe to the newspaper here.
Really, it’s not surprising it has become wildly popular, because crime (and high school sports) are the most-read parts of any newspaper. Plus, and mainly, I think, my reputation as a trusted news source is solid.
Readers spend an average of about five minutes navigating around my news site during each visit. And best of all, what has really grown is how readers contribute through their comments.
It along with its companion Facebook page – which is a horse of a different color really, but is also a wealth of reader contributed information and commentary – have grown into something I wouldn’t quite have imagined four years ago.
Lewis County Sirens has found a bit of time to reach further out into the community, through an opportunity to support Centralia’s live theater, in a small way. And now, as co-media sponsor of the upcoming DB Cooper Music Festival. Doing my part to help give us all a break from the trauma, drama and disaster that comes with focusing on crime daily, and when it happens.
Will Lewis County Sirens be around four years from now?
It’s hard to say.
As many of you know, being an entrepreneur has its challenges. Me, I’m that and a dedicated news reporter. Those are two tall pairs of boots to fill at the same time.
And I’m just one human. I really do only have two feet.
So, as Lewis County Sirens celebrates four years, I’m going to suggest that any of you who find it a truly valuable resource in our community consider what, if anything, you might do to ensure its continued publication.
Feel free to simply keep reading and enjoying it for no charge. I grew up with the idea of free news, and I like that. In fact, absolutely do continue reading. The larger the number of readers, of visits, of page views, the more valuable the advertising space is to those who want to promote what they do.
And that’s what supports Lewis County Sirens when it comes right down to it, the advertising.
While I think I’m a pretty terrific news reporter, the one who fills the boots in the ad sales department hasn’t done a whole lot to make sure that area businesses, organizations and other enterprises know what an amazing opportunity exists with an ad on the news site.
There simply is nowhere else locally to reach so many people, for so little money. We get hundreds of thousands of page views each month.
So readers, I’m asking you, if you’re a fan, if you are someone who really wants to help, then think about your own business, or someone close to you, who could benefit from placing an ad on the most-read local news site. And then tell them about it.
I’m feeling so good on this fourth “birthday” that I’ve come up with a special pricing deal – a super good one, actually – for anyone who launches an ad before June 30. Ask me about it.
Also, there’s that little yellow “donate” button on the right hand side of the news site. This may sound like a public television pitch, but if you like what you are reading, and feel it’s worth paying for, and can afford to, consider making an ongoing small donation, or consider a one-time contribution.
Whatever suits you. Whatever feels right.
If money is too tight, but you still feel like you really want to contribute to the ongoing success of this resource, one way to do that, if you happen to be on Facebook, is whenever you read a particularly interesting news item, hit the share button and blast a link to all your friends.
That’s pretty much it for Lewis County Sirens’ birthday wish list.
Well, okay, there is one other thing, for anyone who may be feeling a bit of appreciation and can’t think of any other way to show it. Since you asked …
You could send me a Starbuck’s gift card, and consider the caffeine an investment in helping me get through one of the coming news cycles. 😉