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And we’re off!

Three months in, and NewsShed has launched its first town page!

The Shandaken town page, at www.watershedpost.com/shandaken, has been live since April 16, in public beta — a quasi-development state that has allowed us to see what works and what doesn’t.

To populate the Shandaken page with content, we’ve beefed up our reporting about Shandaken, we have covered the last two town meetings and have written multiple stories about Shandaken-specific happenings. Here are a few of our recent stories.

The town page, which we haven’t advertised, had fewer than 200 hits since its launch, and the journalism that features Shandaken, which has appeared on both our regional site and on the Shandaken page, has attracted over 1,000 hits since the page launched — a third of our readership goal. We are looking for ways to promote the town page more heavily from our main site, and working on the relationship between town pages and the regional site, which already has strong branding and front-page traffic.

We’ve planned to rely on user-generated content for some of the town page content, and so far, the community’s response has been promising. Users have been generating content for the town page by submitting press releases to us via email and adding their events to the site’s community calendar.

One user, an EMT with the Shandaken Ambulance Service, has signed up a contributor — his column of safety tips is called Stayin’ Alive. He will to contribute regular safety tips to the site. Shandaken’s town supervisor, Robert Stanley, has been sending us emails regularly about town issues.

We’ve sold our first ad for the town page, and we plan to meet with Shandaken business owners individually over the summer to discuss ways we can work together.

We’ve hired a part-time business manager, and we’re in the market for part-time reporters in Shandaken and Olive. We’re also looking for town moderators for both towns, and keeping a eye out for other communities that might benefit from a town page.

We have a lot to do — our biggest challenge is finding the time to do it all, and finding other people to help us do it.