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Washington County Living offers 2 new media outlets

June 08, 2008|By JOHN LEAGUE

The Herald-Mail embarked on two projects in May that use new technology and take advantage of our relationship with our sister company in Hagerstown, Antietam Cable.

We have begun a new publication introduced in the South County-Boonsboro-Sharpsburg area called Washington County Living (WCL). It's available for free at dozens of retail outlets in southern Washington County, and delivered to nonsubscribers of The Herald-Mail in that area.

It is accompanied by a Web site by the same name - washingtoncountyliving.com. The Web site was brought online in April.

It is our first large attempt at what's been called "reverse publishing." That means we take photos and information that first are submitted by readers to the Web site, and publish it in our weekly WCL print publication.

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For now, the publication includes information from both the Web site and from our staff at The Herald-Mail. Much of the printed material already has appeared in the daily newspaper. But over time, we hope that will change.

In fact, most of the photos in the most recent edition were generated by people who sent them to the Web site. When school starts again, we expect similar results from reader-submitted posts and blogs that will remain online, but also be transferred and published to the weekly print edition.

Liz Thompson, our digital director, and Travis Miller, our technical guru, spearheaded the Web site development. Bob Fleenor, a gifted writer and editor, is editing the print edition along with his new digital duties.

These three, along with a few others at the paper, have done a great job bringing all of the print and digital initiatives together. Feedback and advertiser response has exceeded expectations, and we're excited about the future of this project.

Also this month, we joined with Antietam Cable to create WCL-TV 30, a cable channel featuring automotive, employment and auction advertising and information from businesses around the Tri-State area.

The Herald-Mail Co. and Antietam Cable are owned by Schurz Communications, a family-owned company based in South Bend, Ind. Many assumed the companies had a close relationship. Until recently, we did not. For the most part, we tended to operate separately.

WCL-TV 30 is our first real attempt to forge a business relationship. We're using Herald-Mail and Antietam Cable print, digital and TV marketing resources to create a new way for area businesses to sell vehicles, find employees, and display real estate and personal property auctions.

Again, early returns on WCL are good.

The television people at Antietam, led by marketing director Cindy Garland and advertising sales director Tony Heaton, know what they're doing. On The Herald-Mail end, advertising director Michael Browning, marketing director Michele Wills, and Mark Kelly, director of facilities management, have made sure all of the pieces fit together.

Given the fact that The Herald-Mail produces as much local video on some days as the local TV station, I was asked if we had bigger plans for WCL-TV 30, such as using The Herald-Mail's considerable local news resources to begin a local TV newscast.

My response: "Stay tuned."

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at jleague@herald-mail.com.

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