The Sumter Item is among the 10 newspapers in the nation featured in an annual list “honoring innovative revenue strategies, impactful journalism and creative audience growth” from Editor & Publisher magazine.
The nation’s premier magazine for the newspaper industry released the list Friday inside its March edition.
Among the 10 featured newspapers, The Sumter Item is the second-smallest in terms of circulation and is the southernmost newspaper on the list. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, Kansas City Star and Spokesman-Review (Washington) are among the other organizations recognized on the 2019 list.
“For our staff and for our community, wow,” Sumter Item Publisher Vince Johnson said. “This is one of our industry’s most prestigious annual lists. Since I’ve been in newspapers, I’ve always read this issue cover to cover, talked about the ideas with co-workers and tried to implement some. I know something special is happening in Sumter right now, but the scope of this recognition is really incredible.”
The USA Today Network, Tampa Bay Times and Richmond-Times Dispatch are also included in the magazine among the Honorable Mention honorees.
“It’s about ideas,” said Nu Yang, managing editor of the magazine. “It’s about the good things going on in papers and their positive and success stories.”
The main project behind The Sumter Item being chosen was the launch of Studio Sumter, the video arm of the paper that launched in February 2018 inside a converted Halloween store in downtown Sumter.
“Studio Sumter was impressive to us especially because of the size of the paper and to be able to do video with that small of a staff and at that quality,” said Yang, also mentioning the month including this list each year is typically one of the more popular issues. “And really how the community has embraced it, how advertisers have embraced it.”
The premier video series of Studio Sumter, Sumter Today, posts a new episode every weekday to www.TheItem.com and has been viewed well more than 500,000 times since inception. The show is hosted by The Sumter Item’s executive editor, Kayla Robins, and is produced by Chief Digital Officer Micah Green and Director of Video Ty Cornett. The show is sponsored by three local organizations, the Sumter Opera House, Colonial Healthcare and University of South Carolina Sumter.
“Sumter Today has really been a game-changer for us,” Robins said. “By posting daily videos on our website and Facebook, we’re meeting our users where they already are, so we’re making it really easy to engage with us. It allows us to showcase the ‘good news’ happening in our community, which people seem like they very much need and appreciate. Plus, by putting ourselves out in the community and on their screens, instead of just as a byline in the paper, it humanizes us and builds trust.”
Studio Sumter also works with a variety of community businesses and organizations on video projects, from a video series with the Chamber of Commerce’s Industrial Association Board featuring local industries targeting job seekers to an Economic Development Board series highlighting the quality of life in the Sumter region.
Editor & Publisher also recognized a regular commercial series with C. Anthony’s Menswear, where Studio Sumter produces new commercials twice a month that are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets.
“The way we designed Studio Sumter, we have the capability to produce anything,” Green said. “We do news. We do commercials for advertisers. We create internal training videos for companies, documentaries, sponsored content, you name it. The really cool thing is that we can meet whatever needs someone brings to us, so we’re always looking to partner with organizations who want to promote a positive image into the community or who need video production services.”
Other success stories happening at The Sumter Item noted by the magazine include substantial growth in digital audience and digital revenue and a local email newsletter that expanded its reach from 4,000 users to more than 30,000 in the last year.
According to its website, Editor & Publisher is the authoritative journal covering all aspects of the newspaper industry, including business, newsroom, advertising, circulation, marketing, technology, online and syndicates.
Based in Irvine, California, the magazine dates back to 1884, making it 10 years older than The Sumter Item, which was first published in 1894.
This is the second national award The Sumter Item has received this year. Last week, Second Street Media named Best of Sumter 2018 the best citywide ballot in North America.
Owned by generations of the Sumter-based Osteen family, The Sumter Item is one of the country’s oldest continuously family-owned newspapers in the country and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019.
Be a part of The Sumter Item as we help build, inform and protect our region. To do your part, purchase a subscription to The Sumter Item by calling (803) 774-1200. Or if you represent a business and would like to reach our rapidly growing audience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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