We launched that gray October morning with no staff, little resources and not much more than a conviction that there was a better way to do local news, digitally, on the Web.
Through the last three years, that one site with essentially zero traffic on launch day gave birth to an entire family of community new Web sites: The Kennett Times, The Coatesville Times, The Times of Chester County and our newest site, currently in beta-stage development, The Downingtown Times.
In that time, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the white-hot issue of the moment, all of which have come and gone. In a very real sense, we’ve been steered by your input and comments, praise when we get it right, and deserved knocks when we don’t.
From little more than zero traffic that first month, in just three years we’ve grown to exceeding more than one million page views (September marked our first month in that territory) and expect to keep growing and it is likely in 2014 we will become the most-read digital resource for local news in Chester County.
There’s too many people to thank for this — from you the readers to our editorial staff and correspondents and many advertisers who were willing to take a leap of faith with us in the early days.
I will single out a few people, though.
Hannah Christopher, who writes today about the Unionville Cross Country team, became something of an evangelist for The Times in early 2011, writing for us and even selling some of the first ads. She helped to spread the word and really sparked the early growth we needed just to survive.
In 2012, we were lucky enough to add the services of my business partner, Kathleen Brady Shea, who pushed our at times spotty coverage into an entirely new realm. I thought I knew a lot of folks, but if there’s a person in Chester County who doesn’t know Kathy, I haven’t met them yet. Combine that with passion, a dogged stubbornness when it comes to chasing a story (or local official) and the experience to know the right story at the right time, and you have a big reason why we’ve grown so much in the last 18 months.
And of course, my wife, Dr. Stephanie McGann, who didn’t look at me like I had three heads when I said I was thinking about doing this and has since been a strong supporter, sounding board and, of course, writes a monthly column about dental health.
While there are more individuals I could point to, it has been the communities, first in Unionville and then elsewhere that have made The Times work.
A big part of that growth has come from folks just sending in the news of their organizations, groups and businesses, allowing us to spread more news than we might otherwise be able to do, and we encourage you to continue to do that.
It’s been both thrilling and humbling to be able to serve the communities we’re covering and we hope to continue, as resources allow, to keep on expanding and improving that coverage.
As the news business changes, and print newspapers continue to reduce or eliminate publishing schedules, we all feel like this is what the future of local news is going to be: digital, locally owned and accountable to our readers.
We hope we can continue to earn your trust and readership and thank all of you for the faith you’ve placed in us daily to inform and enlighten.