Our News Site is 1-Month-Old
Last updated 1/10/2021 at 11:31am
Wow! It's hard to believe our Lake Wales online news site is almost 1-month-old. We did a "soft launch" with little fanfare Feb. 13 so we could load the site with great content before most people even got their first look.
Our online readership is growing daily and many more are accessing the highlights on our Facebook page. In the last five days our posts reached more than 2,000 people, and more than half engaged in some way.
We're the "new kid on the block," but we're working hard to earn our stripes. Twenty-three volunteers have written stories or submitted photos to the site. Many others emailed calendar items or event announcements. I appreciate each of our contributors so much.
We also were pleased to add professional photographer LaVaughn Williamson from Willliamson Photography of Lake Wales to our staff; his photo coverage of Mardi Gras and other local events has been nothing short of amazing. Watch for more galleries full of photos on our site.
Our LakeWalesNews.net motto is "Hometown Stories that Count from People Who Care." To date we have posted more than 150 stories and over 500 photos. We've published school stories, sports updates and features on local people of interest, like legendary local artist Tom Freeman and 16-year-old world champion barefoot water skier Jackson Gerard.
We are reaching out to build an even larger group of "citizen journalists" who can send in stories, opinions, photos and videos about what they think people should know. If you have something to share, please email to [email protected]
LakeWalesNews.net was only a dream two years ago when we lost our hometown newspaper, The Lake Wales News, which had been publishing for more than 90 years. We now know Lake Wales is one of more than 1,400 communities to lose their local paper in the last 15 years. We hope to fill the void.
We believe every community needs a local news organization to serve as a watchdog of the public interest and a promoter of community spirit and we're working hard to fill those roles. We published our first Editorial in our Voices section today, and if you register on our site you can submit your own opinions or comment on specific news stories. You also can post free classified ads, with photos.
About two years ago I talked to the editor of another online site about the lack of coverage about city government news. His site does a good job covering arrests, car wrecks and traffic tie-ups, but he said his readers just don't care about local government issues.
Apparently our readers feel differently. Some of the most popular stories we've published to date have been about the City looking to build a north library, the City planning to buy the YMCA, the city manager wanting a luxury vehicle and the accomplishments and future plans of the City's Lake Wales Museum.
We also are working to keep an eye on what's happening with the charter school system, Polk County School Board and county commission. Readership spiked dramatically when we published a story about McLaughlin Middle School possibly adding high school grades.
Publishing a quality online news site is a lot of hard work, but it's also a labor of love. Please look at the ads on the site and thank the businesses for becoming Charter sponsors, covering the costs so we can bring news and information to the greater Lake Wales community.
Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated. Email your suggestions and comments to [email protected] We want to produce a local news site you find interesting and important to your daily lives. Please keep us in the loop and share our site with others. Together, we'll publish a product that will make us all proud.