What is news?
That's a question the Noozhawk flock confronts every day, and the hard reality is there's not a simple single answer to the question.
After spending more than 30 years in the news business, I could tell you that news is what we — the almighty journalists — say it is.
There's some truth to that, and that's certainly a view that many news people — and their audiences — cling to quite tenaciously.
But I would be wrong.
What I've learned over the years — and especially in nearly a year and half with Noozhawk — is that news is what you, the readers, say it is.
One of the most impressive things about working for an online-only news organization is that we know exactly what you're reading. It's called analytics, and it's amazing.
We're able to track — week by week, day by day, even minute by minute — which stories you are reading. We know what resonates with our readers, including how long they spend on a given story.
That's something traditional newspapers — what my partner, Bill Macfadyen, calls "fossil media" — simply cannot do.
So, what is news?
First and foremost, you the readers want to know what's happening in the here and now. You want to be informed about brush fires, traffic accidents, shark attacks, and murder and mayhem.
When breaking news happens, the undeniable fact is that our website traffic soars. Virtually every week, more and more of you turn to Noozhawk as your preferred source for the latest breaking news.
Over the years, I've been told countless times by readers that they want more "good news."
That's definitely what people say ... and the fact is, Noozhawk is chock full of good news.
But our analytics tell us that, beyond everything else, you want breaking news — the more spectacular the better.
As a small company, we're limited in what news we can cover on a given day. We have a dedicated and talented staff — I would go so far as to say they're the best in the region — but there's no way we can cover everything.
We try to stay focused on those stories that we think are most important and have the greatest impact on the community. We cover schools, local government, feature stories and more.
And, of course breaking news — as much as we can muster.
Based on our Internet traffic over the last year, I would say you agree with our approach. Our website traffic is growing at an incredible rate.
We've set records for website visits and page views in four of the last five months, which suggests we're doing something right.
And what's totally cool is that you help us with that process. Many of the stories we cover are the result of tips and questions we receive from readers. In a very real way, you are our eyes and ears in the community.
The fact is, defining "news" is no easy task. If I were to ask 10 of you to name the top story on any given day, I'd probably get at least nine different answers. And that's OK.
To me, the most important thing is that, increasingly, you are turning to Noozhawk for the most complete and up-to-date news about our community.
We take this responsibility very seriously, and appreciate the confidence you place in us.
But we are not perfect, and I would be grateful for any suggestions you'd like to share on how we could do better, or a big story we are missing.
I also would be grateful if you would consider signing up for a voluntary membership in our Hawks Club. For a mere $1 a week — or more, if you're so inclined — you can become a full-fledged member of the club, and help support the kind of high-quality journalism we know our community wants and deserves. (Click here for more information.)
I hope to hear from you.