To be honest, I was not expecting the paper to close. I have received almost overwhelmingly positive feedback on the paper since we started publishing it. People seemed to like the “Local Faces, Local Names, Local News” approach that was heavier on photos and positive community items and lighter on news-y reporting. We were not the Lincoln News, nor did we ever intend to be the same type of publication. We tried to tie the paper in with a popular website and Facebook page to offer a media platform that no one else in our area had. And advertisers seemed to like the combination, as our ad revenue continued to grow throughout the life of the publication.
But apparently it didn’t grow enough to support the paper. I received an unexpected call from Bob at Hometown Newspapers on Tuesday letting me know that it wasn’t sustainable any more, and that he was pulling the plug. He did offer to print one more final edition to announce the closure, but I didn’t see any point in having him lose money on one more edition.
So you may be wondering what that means for the Exploring Lincoln website and Facebook pages. The answer is I don’t know yet. I ran Exploring Lincoln for nearly a year before starting the paper, and the popularity it had accumulated was what made Hometown Papers approach me about starting the Explorer. It has continued to grow since then, to the point now where nearly 5000 people have liked the Facebook page, and thousands of people are hitting the website and interacting with the content each week. That’s not bad when you consider that the town lists the population of Lincoln as 5221 on their website.
The bulk of that traffic comes from the photos of local sports and area events I publish, and also from some of the community news and business spotlights I write. And the truth is that I was doing that before the paper started, and can continue to do it even though the paper is gone. I really enjoy getting out in the community with my camera, meeting lots of folks, and capturing cool moments as they participate in life in small-town Maine. What the paper allowed me to do was to make a little money while doing it so that I could justify all the time I spent taking, editing, and posting photos. I will continue Exploring Lincoln in some form, but haven’t worked out the details yet.
What I can say now is thank you – thanks to all the businesses that advertised in the paper, thanks to all the stores and offices that distributed copies, and especially thanks to all the people who read it each week. I really appreciate all the encouragement and compliments I have received over the past 8 or 9 months in the paper business, and am sorry that the print copy, at least for now, is dead. Please keep checking the website and Facebook page, as local content and photos will continue. And stay tuned to see what comes next…