Future of Roane County News

Submitted by betterbizbetty on November 20, 2012 - 8:29am.

Boots Cook was a great news man. He has long passed on, but his news reporting lives on. The Roane County News was historically owned and operated by many local people before being bought by the large out-of-state business conglomerate Landmark. Local people like Boots built the paper based on his love of reporting about his community. Times goes on and time does change the world. It has changed our news and media choices.

Around 2008, the RCN was for sale along with other Landmark businesses. Since they never sold I still wonder what their future will be? Since Landmark still owns what should be our local paper, I hope that they someday step up to be a positive force for the community: honest news, investigative reporting, community interest, pride, and our voice to ask the tuff questions necessary to keep the government accountable. If others would also expect better from the paper and this community, then we can rise to the future. If the Roane County News doesn't step up to the challenge, then I don't see a future for them with the changing technology of the years to come.

In essence the paper serves as an extension of our elected representative government. State laws give the major print newspaper in the county certain rights such as being the media of record for legal notices, etc. With that paid service handed to them by our own laws to print our own government notices, I would have hoped they would also work towards overall public good for the people. If they are not interested in serving the public good, then hopefully we have a few elected statespersons willing to looking into those laws to meet the changing landscape of technology. Today, just maybe the government's website may be adequate for public notices. This would save the taxpayer valuable dollars.

While I believe local residents want the Roane County News to be positive force in order for them to either continue reading or return as readers, I know local advertiser demand a strong return on their investment to continue advertising. Local advertisers will no doubt adapt to the changing environment as time goes forward. They will determine if the paper is continuing to provide their businesses an adequate Return on Investment. Currently the paper must be doing an adequate job as this large out-of-state business conglomerate is still here in our small community. Conversely, I have heard people say that they purposefully don’t trade with businesses that advertise in the Roane County News because of their poor news coverage. Adequate is not good enough. I strongly believe if the paper stepped up, then they could reach more readers, thereby increasing their sales today to better position them for the future. Without the investment of hard work for the local community, then I fear the future of the paper is bleak as the world continues to change. The world finally caught up with the unhealthy twinkie. The world does change. Roane County News - it's time you either stepped up or moved on.


Agreed

With the change of hands many years ago, the changes were evident. I realize they do not publish daily, but we often don't get news of many happenings. I remember reporter/photographer Bill Hall kept a scanner running all the time. If anything happened day or night, he was there. After LNI, the after hour coverage pretty much went away. Also with the change of ownership, the stalwarts that made sure we had local and relevant news were eased out of the business.

Bill Hall is still on the job

- just for a different local paper. I saw him this weekend when those kids ran into the State Farm office in Kingston. He was on the scene taking pictures and getting the story.

I guess it was too far for the RCN to drive. Besides there was no DUI or politicians involved.

betterbizbetty's picture
I refused to buy the

I refused to buy the paper on the DUI/politician story regarding Steven Robinette. I heard the Roane County News made it a headliner and it disgusted me for them to profit off his tragedy. Running that story cost them my 50 cents. I hope others too.

I don't want politicians getting DUIs, but there is more important news.

betterbizbetty's picture
Christmas Parades Omitted

Maybe I missed it, but I don't believe so. How could the Roane County News not publish the dates/times for the local Christmas Parades? The Chamber's website has Kingston's down for tonight.

In answer to my own questions - a large out-of-state business conglomerate operating a local community newspaper with a staff that is either not local, not engaged in the community or maybe living on auto-pilot. This is a shame for the community and the kids.

onetahiti's picture
RCN

Roane County News used to be owned by an out-of-state billionaire. Then he died and now it is owned by his billionaire family.

I used to subscribe to the print version but had to stop some years ago when they moved to a stinky ink/paper combination that triggered allergies. For a while, though, we continued to subscribe. My sainted mom would sit on the other side of the room and read me the stories. That got old, however, and we didn't renew.

The web-only subscription is priced unreasonably high. I'm not against paying for online news. I pay for a web subscription to the New York Times. It's expensive ($3.75/week) but at least that paper has piles and piles of content. In addition, NYT gives non-subscribers 10 free articles per month.

We refuse to send RCN's out-of-state billionaires so much money for web access to such meager coverage, especially since they require that we receive an allergenic print version along with it. :(

I wish we could subscribe. :(

-- OneTahiti

I certainly understand what you're saying, OneT!

I was really, really disappointed with the online pricing. There is SO much less cost in publishing electronically once you have the setup initiated. I really don't understand how one justifies charging the same, although I am not in that business and may not understand all the ins and outs. I simply cannot see charging the same for online-only access, paper-only subscription, and paper-plus-electronic subscription. The same price for all three is silly to me.

I can offer you one correction - although it does NOT ameliorate the high price for online access. And that is that one can have an electronic-only subscription without having the paper version sent out as well.

Best always!

RB

onetahiti's picture
RB

Thanks for the correction on the print version, RB! :)

-- OneTahiti

Who

Who was the out of state billionaire?

onetahiti's picture
Frank Batten was the billionaire

Frank Batten (Link...) left Landmark (Link...) to his family (Link...).

-- OneTahiti

Before that

Info was good, but Batten and LNI are basically one in the same. Who did Landmark buy the Roane County News (also Harriman Record, Rockwood Times and Morgan County News) from? I thought it was pretty much locally owned.

onetahiti's picture
Chelsea

Here is a list of all Landmark media holdings: Link...

I don't know who owned RCN before.

-- OneTahiti

betterbizbetty's picture
RCN's past ownership

Mushy could probably tell us the history?

I believe Tom Drury (sp?) was the one that sold to Landmark. Tom's family lived in Kingston. I saw Tom and his kids often. Last I heard, several years back, Tom was running another local paper in East Tennessee. Maybe with Doug Horne? Paul Page bought the Roane County News back in 1959 after being the statewide editor of The Nashville Banner for more than 10 years. The late Mac Garbett was the long-term general manager working under Paul Page. I also believe LaRue "Boots" Cook owned the paper and came out of retirement to run a competitor newspaper with Gerald Largen. Didn't Bill Hall's father own the RCNs at one time?

Squeezed

It is squeezed in a small space between Things to Do and Club Meeting. But you do have to hunt, doesn't pop out at you.

Those who have read my comments here in RV...

... will have noted my various criticisms of the RCN. However:

In advertising ANY time-specific event, there is always a balance to be achieved. If you put it in print too soon, people will see it, forget it, and gripe because they never saw it. If you put it in too late, people will gripe because it was too close to the event. What constitutes too early or too late? Well, that's a totally subjective call. There IS no objective standard for that by which publication timing can be judged.

As it is, the parade schedules ARE in today's edition, which hit the streets yesterday evening. Let's see now - it is still November and the parades are in early December at earliest. I'm thinking that if someone wants to make one of those parades, they have plenty of notice to do so. Especially since the timing of the parades has for many, many years been within the first two weeks of December, in order to allow time for a re-schedule if necessitated by inclement weather.

Are we dealing with a case here that it wouldn't matter what they did at RCN, they'd be wrong?

RB

betterbizbetty's picture
Obviously I missed it then.

Obviously I missed it then. What section? I may be below average, but I couldn't find it, or my spouse. Please enlighten us on the times.

After 20 years of the large out-of-state business conglomerate owning the paper, it has become my family's normal thinking that the RCN is wrong. It's rare that they prove differently. We continue to hope for better.

The info that parade schedules are in there is...

in a 2 X 2 banner prominent on bottom of front page, and it tells you what page it is on so you don't have to hunt through the whole paper. It's pretty prominent.

RB

betterbizbetty's picture
Didn't pop out at chelsea

Didn't pop out at chelsea either (see above). Prominance only counts if you found it. It seems the Kingston Christmas Parade would be one of the biggest things happening tonight - fun for the kids, traffic delays, etc. Now that I know the time I will be there, but it sure wasn't easy for my meager mind.

randyellis's picture
Harriman Parade

Here is all the information for the Harriman Christmas Parade! Link... Thursday November 29 at 7pm

Randy Ellis
randyellis@gmail.com

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