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The Monroe Times is celebrating 120 years in the community
Local newspaper is as relevant as ever -- website delivering 1.7 million impressions for advertisers monthly
The Monroe Times

This week marks the 120th anniversary of the publication of the first Monroe Times -- October 13 to be exact.

Being continually in business for  120 years makes the Times one of the area's oldest businesses. We're proud of our heritage, starting out as a four-sheet evening newspaper and evolving into what we've become today -- a bi-weekly newspaper delivering 3,250 newspapers mainly in Green, Stephenson and Lafayette counties.

The first edition of the newspaper included a half-page of advertisements on the cover. A newspaper is a reflection of a community and a newspaper exists here because this area has a strong business community. It has hearty, hard-working residents who want to be informed about the world around them.

The Monroe Times started as a local newspaper -- printing news stories on local events and  items on the people and civic organizations that made this place unique. All Times readers understand we've been through changes in the past year-and-a-half. The newspaper, the Monroe Shopping News and websites, and are owned by Morris Media of Monroe. Since purchasing the publishing company in February of 2017, we've aggressively made improvements to update our infrastructure and business model. 

The mission of our business is "strong local news and excellent customer service." We've gone from having Associated Press wire copy filling pages to becoming a publication including virtually all local news. Fluctuation in newsprint prices due to federal tariffs led our newspaper to reduce the number of days we published from six to two. We have compensated by completely revamping our website at into a newsy, easy-to-read format on all types of electronic devices.

A newspaper would not exist for 120 years if it did not make changes. When the first Times was printed there was no radio, no television, no internet. After 120 years of some of the most significant technological advances in humankind, we're still a successful, necessary, positive contributor to this community.

We have our readers and advertisers to thank for that.

After changing our frequency of publication, we've held our readership. While some people didn't like the change and decided no longer to get the paper, others saw our reduced subscription rate and became subscribers. We continue to send our product to 3,250 homes in the community. Last year our community newspaper was recognized with 25 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation awards for coverage. This is competing against all of the other newspapers in the state. Our peers tell us we have a quality product. More importantly, our readers have stood by our side and told us that while they may not like all the changes we've made, we still provide a quality product to the community. The Monroe Times is as relevant as ever -- and that relevancy is growing by leaps and bounds.

Our biggest success story is in its infancy. The Monroe Times website in September delivered a total of 1.7 million impressions (views) to its advertisers. Our business has the combination of a strong Facebook page, with 5,900-plus friends and followers, plus a website with more than 1,200 paid subscribers and an unlimited reach for the content we publish beyond the paywall. Through digital analytics we can show our advertisers how many people saw their advertisement on our website. Our newspaper is audited to verify its circulation. Our website's analytics are also verified. We can tell an advertiser how many people saw their ad online. We can tell an advertiser how many people clicked on their ad and went to their website. We can tell our advertisers where our web audience is from. Indeed people in this area read our publication, but we have a steady draw of readers from Madison, Janesville, Rockford, Freeport, Platteville, Dubuque...

A newspaper is a reflection of the community it serves and we are reflecting the unique attributes of our fine community throughout a significant swath of the Stateline region.

The people reading our newspaper and visiting our website are actively seeking out local information -- from news to advertising. Pulse Inc., a non-partisan survey of consumer trends, focused on Wisconsin and showed that 92 percent of people regularly read their locally-produced, multi-frequency-per-week newspaper. More importantly, 65 percent of people make buying decisions based on what they see and read in these publications.

The different demographics of consumers spending money in the local marketplace get their information in many ways. The Monroe Times has its print readers, and online readers. We've evolved to provide service to businesses so they can capture both of these streams of readers.  We can combine our products to give businesses measurable multimedia advertising. This is the most successful strategy a long-time, growing business has as part of its advertising business plan. Our success is tied directly to the success of our business partners.

We at Morris Media of Monroe can put any local business, just starting or long established, into a program that keeps the name, goods and services of local businesses in front of the public. We're drawing active readers who are making buying decisions. We have strong local news that drives thousands of people to our website as soon as we publish. Publishing online is doing the hard work of journalism, and then clicking a button to make sure that news appears. Readers pick it up instantly through alerts in several fashions -- from e-mail blasts, to Facebook posts to online updates.

People also read the newspaper and our website to see the advertising. Businesses that provide notice of their goods and services through advertising in print and online absolutely have an audience. Looking at the success of our professional pages and service directories shows we're providing businesses with customers.

While we've made changes in our products, we've made huge investments into our production facility in Monroe, our vehicle fleet and especially our technology. Morris Media of Monroe is here to stay, grow and continue to be part of people's lives. Our "Moments in Time" will continue to honor the contributions and lives of our citizens. Our sports pages will continue to recognize student athletes. Our news pages will cover government, courts, civic groups, law enforcement, the performing arts ... Our images, recognized as among the best in Wisconsin, will continue to capture the moments of the lives of our readers and chronicle the happenings in this place at this time.

The reason the first front page of the Monroe Evening Times 120 years ago was half advertising is because a newspaper is not a public service, it's a business. It is part of the cycle of supply and demand; our reporters supply local coverage not found anywhere else which readers want to see as reflection of their community and to remain informed of what is happening around them. We need readers and advertisers. The payoff for our readers is they are informed. The payoff for our advertisers is they have access to our audience, which is basically the entire community. Through advertising, businesses show people they support freedom of speech, an informed electorate and an educated populace. Advertisers are good citizens.

Thank you all for supporting the Monroe Times for the past 120 years. By remaining on the cusp of new technology and protecting the people's right to know, our strong local news and excellent customer service will see us through another century and score of years serving our greater community.