cubes symbolizng the change from 2018 to 2019

What a year it’s been.

As we prepare for the dawn of 2019, Wausau Pilot and Review took a look at all the ways in which 2018 shaped our lives, our news coverage, and even our newsroom. For us, 2018 has been a year of incredible growth and significant change, and we’re grateful to you, our readers, for making that happen.

Looking back at 2018, Wausau Pilot and Review published more than 3,000 stories. Most were written by people in our newsroom. But we also rounded out coverage with stories from the Associated Press, Courthouse News, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Kaiser Health News, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, and other well-respected newsrooms publishing stories with huge impact for our readers. We also became a member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

In April, we won a competitive grant for business and marketing training help. Thanks to the grant, we were able to hire our first-ever editorial assistant, Amy Kimmes, in May; and in September, we hired our first marketing and advertising manager, Darren Siewert. We also opened our first public office in downtown Wausau, at 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8. You’re welcome to stop by.

Also this year, hanks to a grant from The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, we launched our Documenters program. The program allows us to send citizen journalists — people just like you — to sit in on community meetings and document what they observe. Sometimes, their observations lead to bigger stories that our journalists follow up on for traditional reporting. Other times, they simply serve as a window into what’s happening in and around the Wausau area, giving a bird’s eye view of events we wouldn’t otherwise be able to cover.

One of our biggest initiatives of the year has been the introduction of local high school sports coverage. Our partnership with CW Sports means high school athletes from Wausau East, West, Newman and D.C. Everest are getting the attention they deserve for all their hard work. If you value this coverage, please consider a sports sponsorship to help keep this coverage going and to strengthen it as we move forward.

Over the summer, we launched an app for smartphones, then tweaked it in early December for ease of access to content like obituaries (which we publish at no charge), local sports, and public safety news. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can get it for free by searching “Wausau Pilot” in your app store.

Overall, in 2018, our readership has grown by leaps and bounds. We’ve nearly tripled the number of readers who take in our news daily, and our free daily email newsletter has six times more subscribers than it did last year. What’s more, we continue to see growth every month, and that’s great for local advertisers. Thanks, readers, for spreading the word, for sharing our stories on Facebook, for telling your friends, and for emailing us with your tips and suggestions. They are always welcome.

As always, our news continues to be free. We’ll never have a paywall — ever — because we don’t believe you should have to pay for news about your local community. Instead, we rely on voluntary memberships, tax-deductible donations (matched dollar-for-dollar through Dec. 31!) and advertising revenue to pay our journalists, our rent, our hosting fees, and other operating expenses.

Thanks for a great year, readers. Here’s to the start of another great chapter!

Shereen Siewert, Publisher and Editor