April 2, 2020

Upcoming changes at The Heard Citizen

(Franklin, GA) — My name is Russ Massa and I am currently the publisher, editor, reporter, moderator, social media publicist, janitor, secretary, and treasurer here at The Heard Citizen.

For those unfamiliar with my story, I started this online Heard County news site in August of 2011.

At the time, my hopes were high and while I hoped to bring lots of information to the community, my expectations were tempered. I have always considered this venture as more of a ‘hobby’ than a business.

As some of my friends know, but many of you may not, The Heard Citizen news site alone has never been my primary job or source of income. My full time job during has been in the field of residential construction.

Thanks to tremendous support from my readers and followers in the local community, and lots of hard work — I have been able to gain quite a large following and a great amount of support over the last decade.

My extensive coverage of “all things Heard County” via this website and my various Facebook pages both personal and news related has always been very well-received.

As of today, I plan to change my career and begin devoting all of my time and efforts to grow and improve the Heard Citizen.

After much consideration, I have concluded that being able to make a living as an editor, publisher, and reporter here in Heard County might actually be feasible with more time and effort on my part, more financial support from local businesses and the community at large, and a few changes in how I do things.

In the coming weeks, I will be examining every facet of my website, news coverage, and local reporting to try and improve in as many areas as possible. I plan to personally reach out to as many local businesses as possible in the coming weeks but if you already know would like to offer support please send me an email to editor@heardcitizen.com.

I will outline below just a few of the changes that will be taking place here at HeardCitizen.com. Some may happen rather quickly and others may take some time. Thanks to all of you that have always supported me!

NOT CHANGING (The website content is FREE)

My No. 1 goal (as it always has been) is to keep this site free for everyone to view on a daily basis. While I understand that I could better monetize my content by charging a fee, I feel that the information being free to all is the most beneficial aspect of my coverage. I feel this is also important in our small community with no other fair and balanced news resources available online and with the print media only being published on a weekly basis.

NOT CHANGING (Hard News Coverage)

As I always have, I will continue to strive to bring readers and followers the facts when it comes to all ‘hard news.’ Hard news involves topics that are typically timely, important and consequential — examples are arrest reports, public emergencies, politics, and business news. This site has certainly proven that it can be a very valuable asset when it comes to public safety, weather emergencies, reporting of crimes, escapees, etc. These hallmarks of our local news coverage will never change. The ‘information superhighway’ has quickly turned into the ‘age of misinformation’ and the need for accurate information has never been stronger.

CHANGING (Political Coverage)

This is one of the aspects that I feel can most be improved upon here at The Heard Citizen. I would like to increase our focus on not just political “news,” but information as well. I see so many examples of the community just being generally uninformed about many simple things in the community and I’d like to aim to improve that by covering more public meetings and making this a full-time venture will certainly help me with this. I have developed some great relationships over the years with city and county leaders and I am hopeful that they will see this benefit as well and help support my endeavors to keep our citizens better informed about all the important topics. I am already very grateful for the support I receive from all of our county leaders and politicians — they have all been tremendous to deal with over the last several years. I can call each and every one of them at any time and they are always very helpful. As a media entity, I look forward to developing stronger and mutually beneficial relationships with each of them.

NOT CHANGING (Obituaries)

I have never charged a fee for publishing of our local obituaries and it is important to me that this not change. It is actually one of the most regularly viewed pages on the site and I realize the importance that friends need to know this information in a timely fashion so they can properly attend services and pay their respects to the families. We will offer sponsorship support opportunities for local businesses to help continue to provide you with free and timely obituaries and death announcements.

NOT CHANGING (Heard County School and Brave Nation Coverage)

I don’t expect many changes when it comes to my coverage of school news and Brave Nation sport other than perhaps the chance to do it even better! My whole entry into the world of journalism, social media, etc. came about from my passion for publicizing events involving the Brave Nation and I don’t anticipate much will change. The school system leadership including the School Board itself have always been some of the most faithful supporters of what I do and I am forever appreciative for that.

CHANGING (Advertising Opportunities, Paid Partnerships, Heard Citizen Supporters, Social Media)

In order for me to be successful in my attempt to do this full time this is where I will need to make the most crucial changes. Advertising sales, web development, and monetization of the website are all things I can vastly improve on since (to be perfectly honest) I’m not great in any of these areas. I fully plan to become great where I can or outsource some of my needs as necessary. I will of course continue to offer banner ad sales on the site but will also develop paid partnership plans for local entities and businesses where I will not only make sure to show people your ads but help you to maintain a strong and mutually-beneficial relationship within our community. Although I do lack skills in some of the previously mentioned areas, I do offer some better skills in communication with the public through articles on the site but through social media communication as well. It is undeniable that the Heard Citizen already has by far the biggest local following on Facebook and I plan to expand that presence across at least some of the other major social media platforms. Also for the first time, I will offer a chance for my readers and followers to personally donate to help fund my efforts to bring you the most important information. I will also offer the chance for sponsored coverage with featured articles on just about any topic or event.

CHANGING (Personal blogs from Russ Massa)

One of the biggest changes to the content at The Heard Citizen will be the addition of my own personal blog. I plan to share my own personal views on an unlimited amount of topics. I plan to be very creative with this blog and present my own thoughts on a variety of topics such as local news, religion, sports, politics, reviews, family, and life. I am certain this blog will make people laugh, cry, think, curse, and perhaps eager to punch me in the face on a regular basis. My blogs are intended to generate more readers and followers to the website and I will also be offering sponsorship opportunities for each of these blogs. Some examples of potential titles for my personal blog posts will be:

Cryday Night Lights (Part 7)

My Psycho Brother

10 Things Gator Nation Should Know About Emory Jones

How It Makes Me Feel When People Think I Am Gay

My Other Psycho Brother

Tori Hustle

10 Reasons I Stopped Calling Myself An Atheist

My 7 Favorite Movies of All Time

Comments

  1. Jennifer Walls says

    Thank you RUSS!!!

  2. April Shelnutt says

    You go Russ! You got this!

  3. Jane Daniel Johnson says

    I keep up with what’s happening through you although I subscribe to both local newspapers. Often times, an event has already passed before I get the papers. Thank you for all you do and good luck in your endeavour.

  4. shirley shepard says

    Thank goodness. I thought you might be terminating Heard Citizen. To all of us that live in “no man’s land” i.e. Charlie B Johnson, Joe Stephens area, your Heard Citizen is about the only way we know what is going on in the county. Thank you for continuing to post this information.

  5. john J Bailey and Patricia Bailey says

    Russ you have always done an awesome job. Best of luck on your total commitment.

  6. Venita Thomas says

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY! Thrilled to hear this! Yours is just wonderful already!

  7. Councilman Bo Almond & Sarah says

    Russ continue your greatness!

  8. Katy Stutts says

    This is wonderful, Russ! My family and crew at Stutts Funeral Home support you 100% and we are excited to see you succeed! Thank you for being so dedicated to our community.

  9. Roberta Duncan says

    This is awesome news. You already provide a great service to our community and I am anxiously awaiting the new format of the Heard Citizen. Best luck on this new venture.

  10. mike nolley says

    I hope you are very successful (and know you will be). I look forward to all you plan to do and would offer my help anyway I can.

  11. Melinda Brown says

    So glad to hear you are continuing to do what you love. Thank you for supporting Heard County!!! We really need you.

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