Friday, March 10, 2023

Newspaper reaches 10-year milestone in region

On March 1, The Windham Eagle newspaper surpassed a decade of publishing success, reaching its 10-year anniversary of serving the Windham and Raymond communities.

Owned by Kelly and Niels Mank, The Windham Eagle published its first edition on March 1, 2013 and remains focused on providing positive and solutions-based news to the Sebago Lakes Region of Maine. The newspaper is headquartered in Windham and recently moved into new offices at 585 Roosevelt Trail.

The first edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper was
published on March 1, 2013. As of this issue, the newspaper
has now published 518 editions since its inception.
Kelly Mank said that she never had any aspirations of owning a newspaper before launching The Windham Eagle.

“When presented with the idea, my initial response was ‘I know nothing about the newspaper industry or journalism.’ I remember sitting in the booth at Bucks Naked BBQ with Michelle Libby, my husband Niels, my father Bob and Dave Debree saying, ‘if we are going to do it, it is going to be different.’ I had no idea what that meant. We thought about it for one week. That next week we met again at Bucks Naked BBQ and said, if we are going to do this, it is going to be something everyone can read… from ages 2 to 102. It will be focused on the positive of our community. We would spotlight the youth and their accomplishments as they are the future, we would highlight the veterans and their history for their dedication to our community and we would partner with local businesses to help create a thriving local economy.”

She said a lot of people told her the paper wouldn’t make it, that newspapers are dying and that positive news isn’t real news and can’t work.

“With a lot of dedication and the commitment we made to ourselves and the community, we have survived,” Mank said. “The newspaper’s success did not come easy or without debt and sacrifice, however, it has proven to be a positive tool and resource for our towns, schools, families, non-profits, organizations and businesses.”

Advertising Director Melissa Carter joined The Windham Eagle in October 2013 and said that the greatest misconception people may have about the paper is that it operates with much more of a crew than it actually does.

“Unlike most other publications, we are basically a two-man army. We don’t have a big team and still manage to put out more pages on a weekly basis than any other newspaper in Maine,” Carter said. “Ed Pierce writes and oversees the stories done by our writers, while I do 95 percent of the ad and page designs and 100 percent of the sales. We do have a couple behind-the-scenes people taking care of billing and administrative duties.”

She said consumers don’t really realize that 100 percent of the newspaper’s revenue comes from supporting advertisers which is why she encourages all readers to support the local businesses they see in the paper.

“I love my job. I like meeting new people and love working with local businesses to help market and brand them so they can grow,” Carter said. “Being able to get creative and come up with ideas to contribute to their overall success is challenging and rewarding. I am not your average ‘salesperson,’ in fact I went to school for graphic design and its where my passion lies.”

Through the years, The Windham Eagle has had three different editors, Michelle Libby, Lorraine Glowczak and currently, Ed Pierce.

Libby said there were some amazing things that happened at the beginning, like a woman who called the paper and told her there's no way there's that much positive stuff going on in Windham.

“She wanted us to stop delivering the paper to her house. I think we've proved her wrong over the years,” Libby said. “The other great thing that happened was after we wrote a story about a woman with a brain tumor. A few weeks after it was published, we received a call from a man in California. He wanted to get in touch with the young woman with the tumor. His family member sent him a birthday present wrapped in The Windham Eagle. It was the edition with the story. He was a brain doctor and had contact with someone who worked with people with her exact type of tumor. We did get them in touch with one another.” 
Libby said she attributes several factors for the newspaper’s success.

“I think one of the reasons the Eagle has been so successful is the team's willingness to keep it positive. We never got involved in drama or created the drama. We provided hyper-local news that people wanted to read about,” she said. “We worked with veterans, the schools, businesses and so many community members who were doing great things. Another thing that makes the Eagle successful is Melissa Carter and her ability to work fast and get great advertising results. Those business partners have been great at letting the paper know when things are happening. Melissa's consistency has been helpful in making the paper look great and keeping the ads and layout fresh.”

Glowczak said there are so many reasons why she loves writing and working for the newspaper.

“I would say that writing for a positive and solution- based newspaper that focuses on all the wonderful aspects the Raymond and Windham communities have to offer gives our readers ‘a breath of fresh air’ in the midst of divisive news reporting. I love being a part of that ‘fresh air.’ If given another number one reason why I love writing for the Eagle is the fact that the publisher and other Eagle staff believed in and supported me while I was learning the ropes of journalism.”

Pierce has served as The Windham Eagle’s Managing Editor since May 2020 and says he finds working with the newspaper’s freelance writers one of the more gratifying aspects of his job.

“After almost 48 years in journalism, I enjoy helping some of these young writers create interesting articles for our readers,” Pierce said. “I appreciate their enthusiasm and their willingness to go above and beyond to keep our publication filled with great positive stories about this community.”

Carter pointed out that The Windham Eagle is the only publication in the area that is direct mailed to every home and business in Windham and Raymond.

“We saturate the market more efficiently than any other advertising source. I believe in our paper so much and wouldn’t be able to sell it to businesses if I didn’t. Because we go to everyone, there is no question as to who your ad will reach. We focus on the good going on in the community. We bring stories to the readers that they will not find anywhere else. When people see their neighbors, friends, family and students in the paper, it creates a personal connection and is what makes us so unique and highly read. And our customers make us successful. Without them we would not be able to pay the high cost of mailing and printing so many copies. We have a loyal base that support us week after week.”

Along the way, the newspaper created the annual Eagle Choice Awards, where readers cast votes for their favorite and most trusted businesses in the Lakes Region. Through the years it has grown to become one of the most popular activities in the area, culminating with a gathering of award recipients hosted by The Windham Eagle. The newspaper also sponsors regular advertising initiatives specifically intended to raise funds for local nonprofits and various charitable activities. These special initiatives directly benefit organizations from throughout the community such as the Special Olympics, the Windham Veterans Association, the Windham High School Boosters Club and other activities helping residents locally.

Mank said that she’s learned a lot about the community in the 10 years of publishing The Windham Eagle.

“One of my biggest eye openers about our community is how many civic, non-profit and community organizations are in and attached to the Windham and Raymond areas,” she said. “There are times that we feel not everyone agrees with or understands the ‘why’ behind our positive and solutions-based mission however, the community support, involvement, and success continues to remind us of the importance of being different and supporting the community that thrives on positivity.

“I have learned that people will challenge and listen, people will question and learn, and people will speak and regret yet at the end of the day we have to understand that acceptance of opinions and views can be respected even when they may not align with personal views,” Mank said. “For me, it is hard not to make everyone happy, and harder not to take things personally however the last 10 years have taught me that we have a choice in how we want to view ideas and challenges and that our mindset is a decision we make every day.” <

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.