By JOHN DAHLIA
The Fairmont News
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — What a difference one year can make. But for me, and a lot of us who support The Fairmont News, a good portion of our effort to make this weekly publication the best it can be, began long before April 2016.
Right around early March last year, our publisher, Andy Kniceley, approached me to see if I would want to help lead a new weekly print and digital media that would serve Greater Fairmont.
My first reaction was a resounding and enthusiastic, “YES.” Fairmont will always be my home in the hills of West Virginia. Many of you know, I lived there, first on Harr Street and then on Morgantown Avenue, since 1993. During those 20-odd years, I found a way to lend a hand both as a journalist, volunteer and even as a former director of Main Street Fairmont.
I was excited, especially after hearing from a few old friends living and working in Fairmont. One by one, they told me how much they wanted to read a publication, both in print and online, that focuses on the community. They wanted to read about the positive people, events, businesses and programs happening in Greater Fairmont. A few school teachers told me they wanted a local media to publish content on the good things happening in our schools. “Do a profile on some of the teachers,” one person told me last year.
Of course, all of those folks who I spoke with agreed a good media also must report on the crime, court cases and tragic events happening, as well. “But that shouldn’t be the focus,” they told me.
My head was spinning. I was charged and determined to help put out a publication that folks would be excited to read and check out online and on social media.
We quickly came together with a launch date and budget of locally produced news, features, community columns, an editorial and a local editorial cartoon and sports. While planning, we decided to add two full color, photo pages to the print and online editions. There were pages we called “Fairmont Pride” and “Fairmont Sports Pride.” Each consisted of about six or more photos of a particular local feature or sporting event.
Right around this time was the second annual North Central West Virginia Business Summit appropriately titled, “Bridges without Boundaries” event sponsored by our Chamber of Commerce. Andy asked me to attend. He had a good number of mock or test Fairmont News issues already printed so we could show folks what the new media would look like.
The event — sponsored by the Harrison, Marion and Morgantown Area chambers of commerce — featured presentations on housing, drugs, workforce issues and roads.
As optimistic as humanly possible, I proudly attended and handed out those test-Fairmont News copies. I was amazed at how excited folks were. Business owners, political leaders, and a lot of regular folks all loved its look and what it would eventually become.
A few weeks later, on Wednesday, April 14 our first issue was published in print and online. That particular day, for me, was doubly special. It was my son Nic’s birthday which meant I had two “Baby’s” to celebrate.
Today, about 52 issues later, the publication Susan Bartholow calls “The Baby” is growing up strong and we couldn’t be prouder. We’ve had the chance to publish stories on numerous community events, people, programs, youth sports, and so much more and I feel like we’re just getting warmed up.
We remain committed to providing the folks in Greater Fairmont with the absolute best community journalism possible. But we still need your help. Please do not hesitate to contact me, Staff Writer John Mark Shaver, our local sports team and of course Susan Bartholow any time you have a question, story idea or concern.
We continue to look forward to serve you and our amazing community for many years to come.
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