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From Printing Press to World Wide Web, High Country Press Turns 10 Years Old

In August of 2005 at three months old, the High Country Press staff included: Back Row (left to right) Ken Ketchie, Jamie Goodman, Sam Calhoun, Lowell Simmons, Ian Ellis, Scott Watson, Lewis McNeil. Front Row: (left to right) Ryland Williams, Laila Patrick, Celeste von Mangan, Kathleen McFadden, Myra Patterson, Leigh Ann Cairns and Katharine Osborne.

By Jesse Wood

Today, High Country Press turns 10 years old. A decade ago on Cinco de Mayo, Ken Ketchie and company founded High Country Press. This was after a three-year hiatus from the publishing business since selling the vastly popular Mountain Times Publications, which spanned Ashe, Avery, Watauga and, for a brief moment, Mitchell County.

Unfortunately, Ketchie jumped back into the newspaper industry at the wrong time. To use stock-market analogy, he bought in at the very end of a very long bull market. In 2005, newspaper ad revenue hit a historical peak in the United States at $49.44 billion. Less than 10 years later, that total would drop 55 percent to $22.3 billion in 2012, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

The beginning of 2012 happened to be the time that Ketchie stopped publishing the weekly High Country Press, which had become the community’s favorite publication for both news and happenings about town.

Ketchie “saw the writing on the wall” over the Christmas holiday in 2011 when both of his parents – not millenialls, mind you – were hovered over their laptops reading the news!

So enter HCPress.com, which also recently celebrated an anniversary of its own. In March, the website turned 3 years old. During that first month in 2012, HCPress.com only saw 20,000 visitors, but it wasn’t long before the website was reaching well over that mark every week – and on occasions, in one single day. Since HCPress.com went live, there have been 3,770,458 visits by 1,773,484 users, who looked at 7,909,702 pages – as of April 3, 2015.

While the format is different from the “good ole” newspaper days, nothing has really changed. Instead of flipping through a hard copy, we’re just scrolling with our fingers or clicking with a mouse to catch up on what’s going on in the community.

The staff, although not nearly as big as shown in the picture 10 years ago, still covers the government meetings, political scuffles, business spotlights, sports, real estate transactions and the events that happen throughout the days, weeks and months of the year.

On our third anniversary, we launched the redesign of HCPress.com. It still features the exhaustive coverage and eye-popping ads of the old site but just with less clutter. We hope you like it, and thanks for reading.

P.S. – Don’t forget about our hard-copy publications, High Country Magazine and High Country Visitors Guide, both of which feature digital companions that can be found on the homepage.