Happy Birthday, Osage County News!

cakeIt’s kind of a special day here at Osage County News. We’re celebrating the second birthday of this website. It was Feb. 11, 2013, when www.osagecountyonline.com was first seen on the World Wide Web.

When the seeds were first sown, we weren’t sure what or if something would grow. After two years, we now know it’s going to grow, but we’re still a little unsure about what it is.

Our original concept of the site was that it would be the “paperless” hometown newspaper for Osage County. Not only are no trees killed in its production, there are no impacts to readers’ pocketbooks to read their local news. And they can read it where they want and when they want. No wondering if it’s going to come in the mailbox (like my Chamber of Commerce raffle prize subscription to the local newspaper that has never been delivered).

It’s taken a few folks a while to catch on to this concept – after all, we’ve done some things the old-fashioned way for a long time in Osage County. But Osage County’s been curious. “What day does your paper come out,” we’re asked. “Any day you want it,” we answer. “What day is deadline?” “We’re always on deadline.” “How do I advertise in your paper?” “Please sit down and let’s talk about this over a cup of coffee.”

We’re surprised and overwhelmed at how we’ve quickly become the “paper” to some folks who have embraced the idea. We’ve encountered eager readers who have realized the potential to learn who, what, where, when, why and how about their Osage County neighborhood.  Just as eager have been some of our contributors who have grasped the concept of community journalism; we’re as eager to publish the information that people who live in Osage County want to know. Most importantly, we have sponsors who have seen positive results of putting their businesses in front of local, online readers. Without the support of sponsors and readers, we wouldn’t have a birthday to celebrate.

Since that first day when Osage County News popped up online, growth in readership has been steady. Without boring you with numbers, we went from a handful of family and friends reading on the day it was born, to reaching thousands of people weekly – in just two years. We don’t think it would be bragging to say we believe we now have as far of reach as any other Osage County media. We have the capability to reach the entire world, but we know for a fact that we’re reaching Osage County.

As it’s grown, though, it seems that www.osagecountyonline.com has become more than a paperless newspaper. We think it’s becoming Osage County’s information center – a local waypoint on the worldwide information highway. A lot of that has to do with all of our Osage County neighbors who have sent us news and information. While we’re focused on reporting local news, we also feature obituaries, milestones in people’s lives, court news, outdoors and recreation, along with featured writers who cover everything from diet and nutrition, to gardening, to faith. Last year during the celebration of Pomona Lake’s 50th anniversary, we featured Pomona Lake in a special section, which in turn led to us highlighting special and unique places and historical sites around the county – now growing into our Explore Osage series. Added to that trove of information, we’ve developed our Explore Osage page, which lists contact information for all schools, city offices, county offices, libraries, and other information. We also maintain an up-to-date County Calendar, where we list events across the county that are open to the general public, and a page especially devoted to free expression of ideas or garage sales.

All of this added together is allowing us to deliver such a variety of information, the site seems to be becoming an encyclopedia of Osage County – the Osagepedia.

Of course when it all started two years ago, we didn’t know what to expect. Local news provided free and “paperless” is not yet commonplace in smaller markets. It’s known that readers are trending away from local print products, and as new changes are accepted and the audience grows older, more and more will seek local news and information electronically. It’s likely that in the not so distant future many towns that once had a newspaper will instead have a local paperless paper. We’re hoping we began Osage County News just in time to ride this wave of advancing technology.

Even with two years past, Osage County News continues to grow – we’re steadily gaining readers, contributors and advertisers. We are continuing to develop information sources, and invite participation from all of Osage County’s communities. We’re happy that a lot of people “get it”, and we know there’s a lot more out there starting to “get it”. And now that we’ve made it two years, we’re pretty certain we’ll make it to three and beyond.

For now, though, two years seems pretty grand. Osage County News has made an impact on this place we claim as home. It’s become part of some people’s lives, and without a doubt it’s now a part of our Osage County community.

Happy second birthday, Osage County News! I’m not sure who is more proud – you or your parents.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas