This week we talked with Logan Bogert, who works as both a reporter and administrative coordinator at the Greene County Record in Stanardsville.
Logan, who graduated from VCU last May, has been at the paper for the past nine months. She talks to us about why she thought Greene was the right place for her to begin her journalism career, how she has helped relaunch the paper’s multiple social media channels, her strategies for engaging and being present in the community, what excites her about working in newspapers and more.
To start, can you please introduce yourself and tell us about where you work and what you do there?
I am a reporter and administrative coordinator for the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. We’re a weekly newspaper, publishing every Thursday.
When I’m reporting, I cover general assignments ranging from education to courts to sports. In addition to writing and taking photos, I also help manage our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My administrative duties include answering phone calls, starting new subscriptions, renewing existing accounts and managing payments and keeping receipts.
Before working at the Greene County Record, I attended Virginia Commonwealth University. I graduated from VCU in May of 2018. I completed VCU’s Capital News Service program where I covered the General Assembly for Virginia’s community newspapers and beyond, earning bylines in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report and other national outlets. While at VCU, I was also the editor-in-chief of Her Campus at VCU – VCU’s chapter of an international online magazine geared toward college women.
Are you originally from the Stanardsville area? How has life been there as a young reporter?
I’m from Culpeper, which is a little under an hour from Stanardsville. In Greene County, everyone knows each other (and probably knows who their grandma is, too). When I first started here, I got a lot of “your name doesn’t sound familiar” and “you must not be from here.” But, 8 months in, I’ve met a lot of people in the community and managed to get past that hurdle.
As far as being a young reporter, I distinctly remember going to cover a basketball game and a man asking me, “Are you here from the high school yearbook?” For the record though – I’m a total grandma at heart and enjoy nothing more than a 9 p.m. bedtime and playing with my two cats. Age aside, I’ve loved being a reporter in Greene. I interviewed in other places, but I got a different feeling when I came to Greene. I couldn’t imagine starting my journalism career anywhere else.
“I’ve loved being a reporter in Greene. I interviewed in other places, but I got a different feeling when I came to Greene. I couldn’t imagine starting my journalism career anywhere else.”
What made you want to start your reporting career in a more rural area as compared to a suburban, or urban one?
There was a unique opportunity here to have a “taste of everything,” as well as to apply skills I just learned at an urban school to a rural paper. Like I mentioned before, I get to cover a wide-range of topics instead of being focused on one beat. I’ve had the opportunity to layout pages in the paper and learn a little bit about the circulation side of things, too. A lot of people I graduated with haven’t had those opportunities in their career yet. It’s just me and my editor who work full-time at the paper, so the decisions we make as a team really matter on a larger scale.
While I’ve been learning and growing as a reporter here, I’ve simultaneously had the opportunity to grow the paper’s presence as well. I re-launched our Twitter account, which just last month, earned 24,500 impressions online. On average, it drives around 200 additional visits to our website. My editor and I also started an Instagram account for the newspaper. I wasn’t convinced our audience would follow us to that platform, but we had almost 100 followers before we even posted a photo. For a weekly publication in a county with a population around 20,000 – those numbers mean serious growth.
I’ve really enjoyed having a front row seat in the day-to-day operations here.
What’s one story you’ve written or something else you’ve done for the paper that you are truly proud of and why?
That’s a tough one! The first story that comes to mind is one I recently wrote about a judge who recused himself in an on-going case against our Commissioner of the Revenue. You won’t find that story anywhere else because I was the only person in the courtroom. It was a last-minute addition to the docket that I caught. I think it’s a prime example of why local journalism matters, and why having watchdogs in communities matters even more.
Some other stories I’m particularly proud of are one on students who organized a sit-in over a substitute who was fired, and a profile on a basketball coach who notched his 100th career win in just four seasons.
I’m also happy that we’ve been able to launch the aforementioned social media platforms. It’s really helped reach new audiences, increase readership and promote our newspaper well in the community.
It sounds like with the social media platforms, you are really meeting your readers where they are. What are some strategies you all have adapted at Greene to engage readers on these platforms?
Engagement on social media is exactly what matters. It’s one thing to check the numbers, but it’s another to understand them. Saying you have 2,000 likes on Facebook sounds great – but how many of those readers are engaging with you? That’s a more valuable number to evaluate.
I think one important thing we do is read and respond when necessary. If someone sends us a message asking how to start a subscription or telling us about an event, we respond. That being said, some comments don’t always warrant a response. If someone has a really strong opinion on a topic, sometimes we reply to their comment encouraging them to write a letter to the editor about it. We do have a profanity filter on our page that automatically takes down inappropriate comments, which I like to think creates a space on our page where people can respectfully have their discourse.
I also look for trends. For the past four months, our most engaged posts and articles have been about our local high school basketball team. So, I started live-tweeting the home basketball games, providing real-time updates. Those live-tweets had even more engagement. I also spend an hour or so each week scheduling content on social media. People know that our page is updated daily. We publish in print on Thursdays, but someone could come to our social media each day of the week and see something new.
Lastly, we “break” news on our social media. Since we’re weekly, if something happens on a Friday morning our audience wouldn’t know until the following Thursday almost a week later. We’ll post a brief “this is what we know” type thing and add “full story to follow in next week’s paper.” That lets people know right away that we’re on it, and hopefully encourages them to buy a paper that next week.
I think readers appreciate that our social media is consistently updated, reliable and responsive.
“I just truly love two things: writing engaging content and having people read it. I also love that every day in the office is different. You never know what will happen, and you certainly never know what direction a story can end up taking you.”
What excites you about working in newspapers right now?
I get excited every Thursday when there’s a new stack of newspapers waiting for me on my desk. I get excited when we sell out of papers in the office. I even get excited when people are commenting and sharing an article online. I just truly love two things: writing engaging content and having people read it. I also love that every day in the office is different. You never know what will happen, and you certainly never know what direction a story can end up taking you. The excitement of those every day, small moments has never worn off for me – and I hope it never wears off for our readers when they pick up a Greene County Record.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think in closing I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone who’s helped and inspired me thus far in my journalism career. Michelle Edwards, my high school journalism teacher, who inspired me every day to pursue my dreams. My parents, who put up with me making “homemade” newspapers as a child out of construction and computer paper – and who kindly mailed them to my grandparents for me. My general manager, Jeff Poole, and editor, Terry Beigie, who took a chance on a fresh out of college reporter. And a huge thank you to everyone who reads and supports our work here at the Greene County Record.