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Member Spotlight — Cumberland Times-News — April 4, 2013

Northwestern Maryland Daily serves West Virginia and Pennsylvania, too
Member Spotlight: Cumberland Times-News

Location/Website: Cumberland, Md.; http://times-news.com/

Twitter/Facebook: @CumberlandTN; https://www.Facebook.com/CumberlandTimesNews

Publication Schedule: Morning daily.

Focus & History: The Times-News serves Cumberland and surrounding areas of Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland, plus six counties in West Virginia and another two in Pennsylvania.

Headquartered in Cumberland, the paper maintains satellite bureaus in Frostburg and McHenry, Maryland. A third bureau in Keyser, West Virginia closed in March 2009 in efforts to cut costs.
The Times-News also publishes a weekend edition focused on political and business-related issues on a regional statewide level for a subscription fee.

The original owners of the paper were the McMullen family. Thomson Newspapers bought the Times-News in 1986 and Community Newspaper Holdings bought the paper in 2000.

What’s Hot: “We just published a piece on one of the mountain tops out here after a climber stumbled on a makeshift marker with a cross and a couple pictures of his daughters,” Times-News managing editor
Jan Alderton said. “It turns out the marker was for a hunter from Baltimore. Through our storytelling, we discovered there’s an entire history of this memorial, a family maintaining it, etc. It’s made for an interesting bit of traffic for us.”

There’s also a spirited debate about the large, concrete planters in downtown Cumberland, which are populated during the day by locals who are either out of work or underemployed.

“There’s a lot of people taking about this being a loitering issue,” Alderton said. “Others are interested in the space being available to the public, whoever that is.”

The Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, a three-day prep basketball event held at Frostburg State University, is annually one of the nation’s premiere showcase events for high school talent. It’s held every year in the middle of March and one the Times-News gives comprehensive coverage to. It’s also one of the few times the paper’s editorial staff writes in direct competition with reporters from bigger papers like the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and dailies from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Finally, the paper draws a healthy amount of traffic from readers who have retired or relocated from the area and want to keep up with the region’s news and people.

“Like so many community papers, it’s a big driver for us to allow readers to be able to connect with their former town,” Alderton said.

Read All About It: About 10 years ago, the Cumberland Times-News took part in a Northwestern University paper readership study. The school randomly selected readers from approximately 100 newspapers around the country. The results revealed by Northwestern’s study remain a point of pride at the paper to this day.

“Our Readership Behavior Score was very high, much higher than the national average,” Alderton said. “It told us our readers not only read our paper but spent some legitimate time with it, up to and often over 30 minutes per day.”

Three-State Hat Trick: Covering parts of three states can be extremely trying, especially without a large staff. A handful of positions held by former staffers have not been replaced over the years.

“The personnel challenge really hits us on our prep sports desk,” Alderton said. “We find we have to rely on a lot of phone coverage from schools calling in results and news. However, it’s always rewarding to see the Times-News boxes in and around the countryside.”
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