By Billy Liggett
The newspaper industry has been in decline for 25 years now. Nearly half of the people who were reading papers in 1994 are still reading them today.
And on that note, I’m excited to announce The Rant has launched a new print product.
If I sound less than confident, it’s because I was going for what we “in the business” call a humorous anecdote to start my first column in the first printed newspaper I’ve ever owned (or, “co-owned,” as I’m contractually obligated to say henceforth). In actuality, I’m practically Panglossian (look it up) to be doing this.
Damn the statistics. I’m home.
I’m sure there are many questions to be answered. Why print? Why paper and ink? Why do I have to physically turn these pages instead of clicking a button? Why can’t I watch Youtube on here? Is this flammable?
These are all mostly great questions.
And while my answer probably won’t satisfy industry analysts, there’s a very simple reason why we’re doing a printed version of The Rant.
It just feels right, Mark. It just feels right.
There’s more, of course, for those looking for further justification. This decision has been anything but hasty. A little history, if I may?
The Rant was formed way back in 2008 when I and fellow Sanford Herald writers Gordon Anderson and Jonathan Owens branched out and started a small weekly 90-minute radio show on Central Carolina Community College’s public airwaves, WDCC 90.5 FM. The show was odd — we mixed in the news of the week from the paper with attempts at comedy — and we loved it. It trudged along with the occasional hiatus until 2013, when a meddling state representative, Friend of the Rant Mike Stone, had us kicked off the air unceremoniously for criticizing him. (Again, look it up … it made the news!)
Part revenge and part desire to keep being The Rant, we turned our website into a news site in 2014. In 2017, we made a conscious effort to invest more time and energy into the site. Our traffic grew exponentially that year. It got bigger in 2018, and this year we’re on pace for more than 1 million page views. All the while, Sanford’s more established news source continues to work behind a paywall online, opening the door for “nobodies” like us to make an impact.
To summarize, this paper you’re holding in your hands today and will one day line your bird cage, puppy’s pee corner or your child’s bed when you’re too tired to do laundry … this paper is 11 years in the making. Despite our best efforts, The Rant is an established local brand. And The Rant is growing.
So the real question here is: Why not print? We’ve got ink in our bloods and mortgages that need to be paid. If it fails, it fails. At least we’re going to have a good time dying.
Billy Liggett is one-third of The Rant and one-fourth of a short-lived all-ukulele Beatles cover band. His column will appear in every edition of The Rant Monthly until we sell out to a large conglomerate looking for a tax write-off.