Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Readers Who Count

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher

and Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

On the morning of Wednesday, March 2, we glanced at the Southwest Chicago Post's hit counter and saw this:

A couple of hours later, at 9:58 a.m., we glanced again and saw this:

That's right.

Three million cumulative page hits--the thing we would never have dreamed of when we started the Southwest Chicago Post in March 2012. But it has happened.

Without a doubt, we are humbled by this. So much so that both of us--two people whose business it is to find the right words to describe things--are at a loss for words. Really.

So we are going to update something we wrote in December 2012 (pasted below), when the Southwest Chicago Post was still a new venture in its infancy.

It still describes us and our news organization well.

Enjoy. And thanks.

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Readers Who Count

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher

and Tim Hadac
Managing Editor

Southwest Chicago Post

We both grew up on the Southwest Side. We attended school here. We met, fell in love, got married, bought a house and raised our children here. Our hearts are here, as are yours.

When we launched the Southwest Chicago Post back in March 2012, we did so simply as two unpaid volunteers working to make our neighborhoods a safer and better place---the same type of effort that hundreds of Southwest Side men, women and even children make every day, in many different ways utilizing their many different abilities. Just like you do.

As longtime local news reporters/editors, we figured we'd do what we know best: gather local news and other useful information and share it in a timely manner with people who simply want to be informed, who want to know what's going on in the neighborhood.

We never intended (and still don't) for our online news service to compete with established neighborhood papers. Quite the opposite, in fact. We regularly offer our content to them at no charge, as a collaborative gesture of good will, and we wish them well.

We also routinely donate free advertising to local non-profits (schools, Little Leagues, churches, civic groups, neighborhood watch organizations, etc.), something no other Southwest Side news organization does. We do it because non-profits typically don't have funds to spend on advertising, yet the work they do is important to our Southwest Side neighborhoods. We appreciate that, and them.

Our hope for the Southwest Chicago Post has always been modest, in terms of numbers. As you do, we understand that even a small number of dedicated, civic-minded people, armed with reliable information, can change a block, a neighborhood, a city for the better. So we thought that if we could attract a small number of public-spirited readers---perhaps a few dozen or even 50---we could make a positive impact on our neighborhoods.

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 with all that in mind---if you had asked us back in March 2012, how many readers and how many "hits" (page visits) the Southwest Chicago Post website would receive by 2022 (10 years after we launched), we would have said perhaps 50 regular readers and 10,000 hits.

But we were off. By a lot.

Ten years after launch, the Southwest Chicago Post has over 21,000 regular readers and more than 3 million hits. Rapid growth beyond our dreams, that's for sure.

But trust us---we're not about to high-five each other or run out to Weber's to buy a cake or to Miska's 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 3 million hits when you thought you'd get 10,000----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 we know we'll never have 150,000 readers.

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. But not because they're some local big shot or 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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