Friday, August 8, 2014
Like many good ideas, the vacation photos in the Moultrie News were inspired by the collision of two ideas. I remember seeing old photos or stories in our archives of locals who had been on vacation or taken a cruise. Back in the 1960s, the town was small enough – and big travel was uncommon enough – that if someone went somewhere interesting, it was actually newsworthy. But by the time I was editor in the mid-1990s, that wasn't something we would print in the Moultrie News.
One day, while having lunch at Dunleavy's on Sullivan's Island, I found myself looking at the framed photos they had on the walls. They were pictures of people wearing a Dunleavy's T-shirt all over the world. I remember one guy standing in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt wearing that shirt. While staring at it, I thought about how those types of trips used to be newsworthy in the Moultrie News and how this picture was really only wall-worthy because the guy had Bill's t-shirt on and then it hit me.
How cool! Local folks were taking Dunleavy shirts to places all over the globe and purposely taking pictures in this shirt in front of recognizable landmarks. Why not encourage people to do the same thing with the Moultrie News? It would combine the old-school publishing of locals' vacation pictures with a little shameless self-promotion. And it required more than a vacation and a camera. You had to remember to take a copy of the Moultrie News with you.
Of course, the only way to explain an idea like that was to show readers how it worked. So, shortly after the idea was born, I took a vacation to Key West. I made sure to take a copy of the paper with me. While at the southernmost point, I asked a conch shell vendor to hold a copy of the Moultrie News for a picture. (Oddly, because I was the editor, it didn't occur to me to pose for it myself.) The conch salesman thought it was funny, but agreed. That was the first vacation photo published in the paper. The first pictures submitted by readers came in only weeks later. And by six months or so into it, we couldn't keep up with all the photos coming in.
Back then, rather than print them in the order received, we gave priority to photos taken farthest from Mount Pleasant as well as those that were really, really interesting.
We received plenty of shots of people standing in front of nondescript locations holding a paper with only their caption to explain where it was. But if someone took a photo in front of a recognizable landmark, they went to the head of the line.
When we started doing this, I'd never seen another newspaper do anything similar.
These days, I see community newspapers all over publishing pictures of readers holding their paper.