On today’s front page, you likely noticed the box indicating we are officially launching our Instagram, @sedonanews.

The impetus for our newest foray into this popular social media platform is sports reporter Daniel Hargis, who partnered with copy editor Andrew Pardiac, our staffer who handles most of our Facebook, social media and website updates.

We hope readers who use Instagram will interact with us in much the same way our readers do on our other social media platforms and via phone and email regarding our print edition.
While some critics of journalism argue that the rise of social media means the death of journalism in general and newspapers in particular, the opposite is true. News outlets are using social media to reach more readers on more platforms in different ways.

Larson Newspapers has managed our two websites since the mid-2000s, providing an online version of our print editions and allowing us to provide breaking news about car accidents, traffic snarls, election results and votes on controversial issues by local elected bodies as well as photo galleries that we simply could not fit into our pages in their entirety.

With the rise and prevalence of Facebook, we launched our Sedona Red Rock News page, sedonanews, several years ago and added
cottonwoodnews for our sister papers, The Camp Verde Journal and the Cottonwood Journal Extra. These made it even easier for us to bring news and photography to our readers, who can then share them on their own pages to continue the conversation, in much the same way people discuss our print editions at local meetings, restaurants or coffee shops, but across digital platforms anyone in the world can access.

We later launched a Twitter page with the handle @sedonanews, bringing 140-character summaries to readers who can then open the links to the full stories on our website.

With data from these digital platforms, we can see niche story get 500 views and a handful of shares, while a typical general news story is more likely to be viewed by 1,000 to 2,200 people. Other stories on controversial issues or those with a major local impact can see 10 times those numbers: During the Slide Fire, we posted maps and updates several times a day, each garnering 15,000 to 20,000 views.

It has been interesting to see what readers respond to and what they share. Our biggest social media story this year was a Feb. 28 video, submitted by reader Brandon McCracken, showing construction crews clearing a mudslide in Oak Creek Canyon viewed 57,000 times and shared 1,171 times, reaching 104,083 people.

We encourage our readers not just to view these stories, photos and videos, but to interact with us, ask questions, suggest stories, send news tips and comment in general. The more we interact with readers, the better we can tailor our coverage to respond with news that interests you and your neighbors. But because each social media platform has its weaknesses and limits, be sure to subscribe to our print edition so you don’t miss anything important.

Due to our strong online presence, digital bulletin boards and discussion groups often cite our website stories and Facebook posts and readers often tag me or my staffers in their discussions, asking for a link to a previous story or documentation to fact-check their comment or someone else’s. We are happy to provide this assistance as part of working in the news business is to provide facts for our readers so they can make decisions and be advocates for change in our community.

We hope that users on Instagram will follow us and see what Hargis, Pardiac and the rest of staff are reporting the news and events around Sedona and the Verde Valley.