By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

Last week marked two milestones for the Navarro County Gazette: The Facebook page cleared 1,000 “Likes,” and the site celebrated its six month anniversary since its launch.

It’s been an interesting experience launching a business during the events of the last year, and while every start up has its own “trial by fire” moments, I’m hoping the second half of the first year is set more to simmer. At this point, I may even consider sauté, but probably not.

I thought it might be interesting for readers to see what’s best resonated with you, what have been some of the Gazette’s personal favorite stories, and letting new readers know that we’re much more than just an online news site.

What have been your favorite stories?

In terms of sheer numbers, the most resonant viewer story has been the closing of Corsicana’s VF Outlet last December. Even more surprising, the story still continues to generate steady hits. Considering I check the site metrics each day, it’s not uncommon to see a still active range of story views for that piece.

Other stories that have ranked high have been various history pieces by regular contributor Dana Stubbs, the history of Old Mexican Inn, new businesses coming into the area, and community based “help” stories. The most recent Cinema IV piece clearly hit a nostalgia spot due to the memories a lot of us had about the old theater. There’s a lot of local mid-century history to explore, and I’ve been spending months (if not years) collecting stories I’m planning to share in the near future.

I’ve been grateful for our reader’s response. Being small, start-up, and independent, it would be very easy to dismiss the Gazette as more a side project than an active news source, but the site’s growth and success has all been from reader support and quite simply, people who have believed in the work. There’s so much I would eventually like to cover, but it’s going to take growth past our current small team. My biggest challenge is not being able to be everywhere at once. But I always encourage people to send in their story ideas. A lot of our best work comes from local submissions.

Out of all the stories that I write about, what are my personal favorites? Interviews. It’s a chance for people to talk about what’s important to them, and share that with the community. I like collecting people’s personal stories. It’s built a lot of good local relationships, and more often that not, new friendships. I understand news needs to be impartial and neutral, and I keep to that when it comes to reporting facts. However, in a small town, it’s important to me to cultivate relationships because, let’s face it, you’ll always run into people you talk about. It’s funny in a lot of ways as a simple grocery store trip can result into running into ten people who want to “talk shop.” Even when I’m in a rush, I appreciate the feedback and simply catching up.

I also like the “nostalgia” pieces, stories of the places that not only affected me, but shaped years worth of my career. Most people know I’ve held a decades long career in the entertainment industry with video games and film. All of that motivation came from here. Everything that formed all those “crazy” ideas of mine that I could actually do those things started here. It’s my hope I can use my own stories to inspire others that yes, their personal interests can actually become something.

Those nostalgia stories have had an added benefit of getting people to share their own takes and inspirations. It’s seeing old and familiar places in a new way. A lot of those stories is sentimental. A lot of those stories have made my day.

And on the other side of the spectrum, last month’s snowstorm was the busiest and most intense series of stories to date for this fledgling site. I didn’t sleep a lot that week, but it was something to live through.

For our newer readers, as the year progresses, our plan is to make the Navarro County Gazette more than just a news source. If you like the way our content looks and the way we write things, the Gazette does provide graphic and editorial services to other businesses who need a creative boost.

We’re also aware we have a number of readers who would love to have a physical copy of our writings. While we’re not to that point of regular publishing just yet, if there’s an article you like, we do create custom designed “keepsake” editions of any article you would like to own, frame, or scrapbook.

We also celebrate all major life milestones. If interested in any of these services, please message us for more details.

Of course, we provide easy digital advertising that can be updated as necessary, and is extremely competitive in pricing. While we don’t require a subscription, if you like our work, we greatly appreciate reader donations (it keeps us active and able to continue growing).

It’s been a good six months writing for you. I wanted to create an informative site where people could come together, have discussions, and share ideas, and that’s exactly what we’ve ended up with. I genuinely love sharing our stories, and most of all, interacting with our community.

While my weekly column is more about recent musings, if you ever have any questions, or want me to expand on a topic, just ask. There’s still a lot yet planned for this year. I just need to sit down and write it.

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