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The Mount Airy News now free online

September 15th, 2007 · No Comments

Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry RFD” now can keep up with news from Mount Airy, North Carolina — Griffith’s hometown and the real-life model for his long-running show — by visiting The Mount Airy News’ web site at

Up until this week, the daily newspaper’s site was accessible only to print-edition subscribers. Now it’s open to everyone.

Heartland Publications, a Connecticut-based media company that bought the newspaper this summer, is using a template and software designed by

“Local news has been the heart and soul of our organization since we first started publishing newspapers in 1880,” the site states, “and for many years, we have worked diligently to bring the readers of our area the finest in local news and information.

“We’ve now taken a step forward and created this site to provide news and information to our readers who have access to the World Wide Web. This is an exciting venture for us. We plan to share news and events from our regular print publication and use the power of the Internet to interact with the community….

“This web site has our name on it, and we’ll keep it up to date, but we want you to think of it as yours, too. Use it, enjoy it, and let us know how we can make it better. We are always eager to hear from you, so feel free to send us e-mail at or call us. Our number is (336) 786-4141.”

Gary Lawrence is the newspaper’s publisher. Andy Matthews is the editor.

Heartland Publications also owns the tri-weekly Elkin Tribune — at this writing, still a subscriber-only site — and a weekly newspaper, The Pilot, in Surry County.

A competing five-day daily newspaper, the Surry Messenger, also covers Mount Airy and the surrounding area in Surry County. Its web site, which went online in August, is It does not charge for access.

The Mount Airy News has had a registered web site since 1997, but did not go online until 2004 when the previous owner, Mid-South Management, bought Olive Software’s system to put the newspaper online in PDF form. Mid-South decided at the time to restrict most of the content to print subscribers. Since then, the industry trend has been to put free content online as individual stories — though usually not the entire day’s edition — and to earn revenue from advertising and access to archived files.

“Every newspaper has to make its own decisions about how much content is posted to the online edition,” said TownNews CEO Marc Wilson in a recent online column.

“Online newspapers need to be a different product from the printed product. Online newspapers have their own strengths – video and audio products work online, but not in print. Deadline issues largely vanish with online newspapers. A weekly print product can be a daily online product. A daily print product can be a 24-by-7 online product. Online tools can empower readers to submit stories, photos, calendar items, ads, blogs and more. Links to related stories, photos and other items are relatively easy to include. Stories and photos that once were tossed in the editors’ wastebaskets can be posted online.

“Clearly, print and online newspapers need to be thought of as different media. The online newspaper certainly can’t be just regurgitated, old newsprint.”

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