Monday, July 14, 2014

Readers Who Count

By Joan Hadac

Editor and Publisher

and Tim Hadac
Managing Editor

Southwest Chicago Post

Almost exactly two years ago, 97 days after launching our Southwest Side neighborhood news service, we expressed a lot of surprise when we glanced at our website ( and saw this:

That was about 19,000 more than we had anticipated.

Two years after that day in 2012, the positive response to the Southwest Chicago Post continues to be a pleasant surprise that has exceeded all expectations.

When we glanced at our website this evening, we saw this:

...and then, at 11:07 p.m., this:

Who said numbers couldn't be fun, right?

Anyway, we began this new online news service---locally owned and operated---with absolutely no fanfare, no advertising.

We started quietly---"soft-launching" this news service so we could work the kinks out before we got up to speed. Kind of like how, years ago, people who bought new cars would go easy on them for the first few hundred miles or so.

Our plan was---and still is---to proceed deliberately. Step by step. Just simple, straightforward, neighborhood news reporting with no shortcuts to success.

In that regard and in terms of our business model, we are not the hare. We are the tortoise.

And proud of it.

So trust us---we're not about to high-five each other or run out to Weber's to buy a cake or to Archer Liquors to buy a bottle of champagne.

Instead, we thank our friends and neighbors on the Southwest Side---that's you!---for giving your vote of confidence to a Southwest Side-owned and operated online news service.

These way-better-than-anticipated numbers tell us we're on the right track. Your response tells us to keep doing what we're doing and trusting our instincts---not just as journalists, but more important as lifelong Southwest Siders who basically want and work for the same thing we all do: clean, safe neighborhoods in which to live, work, play, study, worship, shop, and more.

Neighborhoods where we can raise our families and grow old in peace and comfort.

Neighborhoods where---especially for our children and grandchildren---"the good old days" are now, because we made it that way by working together.

And we hasten to add this about our website's hit count: while it's definitely exciting to get half a million hits--500,000--when you thought you'd get about 5,000 at this point--we prefer to measure quality over quantity.

That is to say this: we primarily serve the five city neighborhoods that border Midway Airport. An area of about 150,000 people. But know we'll never have 150,000 readers, or 100,000 or even 50,000.

And that's entirely OK with us, because we believe in the old newspaper saying: "Far more important than counting your readers, is having readers who count."

Rest assured, we don't need to reach every single person directly---and we don't plan to.

We don't want the Southwest Chicago Post to be an unread, rolled-up newspaper on every porch (or soggy and in the bushes). Not us. Not ever.

We want to be a 24/7 online news service for Southwest Siders who are smart, savvy, and skeptical---but not cynical.

Southwest Siders plugged into the Internet and who use social media tools to connect and communicate.

Southwest Siders who are registered to vote---and vote.

Southwest Siders who---whether they know it or not---are leaders.

Leaders, not because they're some local big shot or political windbag. Southwest Siders who are leaders, simply because they are ordinary men and women with common sense---and who care enough to take the time to inform themselves on issues and have solid opinions. And then, deliberately or not, influence other people (and therefore help shape the direction of our neighborhoods) as they share their opinions with neighbors on the block, at their church or local school, in their civic association or neighborhood watch group or CAPS meeting.

In other words, you.

Readers who count.

Thanks again.

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