Happy 3rd Birthday, Osage County News!

021116-ocnbirthdaycake2016We at Osage County News are celebrating the third birthday of this website today. 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 three years, we now know it’s going to grow.

Our original concept of the site was that it would be the “paperless” hometown newspaper for Osage County. No trees are killed in its production and there are no impacts to readers’ pocketbooks to cover printing and distribution costs. And readers read it where they want and when they want without wondering if it’s going to come in the mailbox.

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?” “Let’s sit down and talk about it 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, our sponsors have seen positive results of putting their businesses in front of local, online readers. Without the support of sponsors and readers, we would have nothing to celebrate.

Since that first day when Osage County News popped up online, growth in readership has been steady. We’ve gone from a handful of family and friends reading on the day it was born to reaching thousands of people weekly. 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 has become 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 nutrition, gardening, and faith, to social interactions. We also highlight 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 community calendar, where we list events in the county that are open to the general public, and a page especially devoted to free expression of ideas or garage sales. And don’t forget our business news and the OCN Marketplace that puts puts local businesses in front of an ever growing online audience.

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

Of course when it all started three years ago, we didn’t know what to expect. Local news provided free and “paperless” is still not 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. It seems Osage County News was born just in time to ride this wave of advancing technology.

Even with three 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 three years, we’re pretty certain we’ll make it to four and beyond.

For now, though, we’re proud of growing to be three years old. 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 third 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