The launch of "Ottawa County Seen on Scene" is the natural next step in the Miami News-Record's hyper-local approach said managing news editor Dorothy Ballard.

MIAMI – Just ahead of The Miami News-Record's one year anniversary in transitioning from a daily to a bi-weekly publication with a hyper-local focus, the paper's newsroom has introduced a new community forum dedicated to Ottawa County.

The Facebook group,"Ottawa County Seen on Scene," was launched this week as a new networking platform for regional issues and initiatives with community voices taking the lead, according to MNR managing news editor Dorothy Ballard.

"I came to the News-Record just ahead of some import shifts in this legacy paper's approach and it did not take long to discern what would keep this newspaper relevant and thriving – putting our fiercely proud and driven community front and center," said Ballard.

In April 2017, the News-Record announced it would be moving to a twice a week print schedule, with a Midweek Edition distributed on Tuesdays and a Weekend Edition distributed on Fridays. The paper also adjusted its in-print news focus committing to prioritize locally centered content.

While the newspaper's online presence still encompasses a broader, daily presence in its news coverage, content in the print editions put local and regional news in the lead with an emphasis on in-depth reporting rarely afforded to smaller communities, according to Ballard.

"It was a big change and one that was met with some resistance and disappointment. The News-Record has been the central news source for Ottawa County for well over a century, and no one wanted to lose that," said Ballard. "It has taken some convincing, but I think we have been able to successfully demonstrate just what we were trying to do, create a greater depth of focused quality over quantity."

Ballard said with readers having access to national and international news at their fingertips it was vital that the News-Record affirmed itself as a community newspaper.

"We are a small, close-knit newsroom, very much a reflection of the community we live and work in, so we really threw our focus and talent behind what powers that, the people of Ottawa County and northeast Oklahoma," said Ballard. "We live in a time when access to most news is just a click away. What sets us apart is we are the watchdogs, story preservers, and community informants for a very specific place with some very unique challenges and advantages. That's something only community level papers can provide and we're proud of that."

The launch of "Ottawa County Seen on Scene" is the natural next step in the paper's hyper-local approach said Ballard, who views the initiative as the best way to give voice to MNR's readership through social media and in connecting them to local resources or facilitating the creation of new ones.

"In every pocket of this region, you will find activists, artists, civic organizations, churches, businesses, and administrators fully engaged in community work and development," said Ballard. "Our ultimate goal with this new forum is to amplify those voices and connect them with each other and our wider community."

The forum is public and members are able to share events, photos, videos, and launch discussion topics. MNR will contribute by facilitating Facebook interviews, opinion polls, and sharing direct commentary from community members on current events.

Access the new forum through the Miami News-Record Facebook page or directly at the "Ottawa County Seen on Scene" group page.