Sierra Wells/TCCJ contributor
During a time when many newspapers have had to permanently close their doors, Mary Rampellini was inspired to open her own newspaper, the Metroport Messenger, in Roanoke, Texas.
“I know it’s been very tough for those in print. Part of opening this was wanting to have something tangible in people’s hands, so their histories are recorded,” Rampellini said.
Publishing its first edition in July 2020, the Metroport Messenger covers school news, economic developments and public services in Roanoke, Westlake, Justin and Trophy Club.
“Serving others is one of the features I try to have every issue. And that’s someone who goes out and is working to better the lives of somebody else. They’re serving others, and that’s very important to me,” Rampellini said.
When the newspaper was first getting started, the COVID-19 pandemic posed various challenges with advertising.
“I really felt that it’s proper that I not go into a lot of stores face-to-face to business owners, so I made calls, phone calls, to try to sell ads, out of respect for others,” Rampellini said. “So that was probably limiting not meeting people face-to-face. We’ve been able to move beyond that.”
The Metroport Messenger prints five to six times a year, with approximately 10 editions already out. Rampellini hopes to grow the newspaper to print monthly in the future.
Rampellini previously opened a newspaper in Roanoke when she was 19 years old. However, after selling it, the newspaper eventually shut down.
“At that time there were about 5,000 addresses in the community; it’s the same communities that I’m doing, and now there’s over 15,000, so the growth has been incredible,” Rampellini said. “I think part of the challenge is uniting a larger amount of addresses and people with a community newspaper. I think it was easier when there were 5,000.”
Despite the popularity of printed news wavering, the Metroport Messenger has been consistently growing since opening.
“Our sales were the highest they’ve been this last edition, and I would say, generally speaking, we’ve climbed with each edition with sales. So, it’s been a very slow but steady growth,” Rampellini said.
Along with the print edition, community members can find links to the paper on the Metroport Messenger’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“I certainly know its very tough to compete with the electronic world. We do put out a digital edition; we post that on social media,” Rampellini said. “I realize that has to be an aspect of business nowadays, but I was just really hoping that throwing it back, going a little old school might be a hit.”
“I think it’s very tough for print, but I’m hoping that there’s places for all of us that have newspapers to still have enough people supporting us in the print that we can carry on,” Rampellini said.
Sierra Wells is a senior journalism major at Tarleton State University. She is the Managing Editor of the Texan News Service and is a TCCJ contributor.