It’s 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning and Lynn Rebuck has just finished writing and editing a story she covered the night before about an injured high school quarterback and how his fellow and rival teammates rallied around him. She finalizes video edits and processes her photographs. Then, Rebuck grabs a few hours of sleep before waking the next morning to see the story has gone viral. “A reader in South America contacted me and thanked me for publishing good news,” she said.
To date, the video has been viewed more than 1,700 times—a success for any small town publisher, but for Rebuck, it’s a major victory because she runs lititzdailynews.com all by herself. That’s right; she writes, edits, shoots video, takes photos, sells ads, and updates the website and social media.
When she first launched the website in 2014, Rebuck said it was because she saw a need for digital news in the small community of Lititz, Pa. (population: 8,000).
“It seemed like a lot of people were turning to Facebook for news,” Rebuck said. “The news wasn’t being vetted and there were a lot of unconfirmed reports. That concerned me.”
According to Rebuck, unique page visits have nearly doubled since last year, and since its launch, the site has seen more than 74,000 unique visitors.
With a traditional journalism background, Rebuck not only had to prioritize the news she covered, she had to learn how to sell digital ads and find ways to improve delivery and promote the website. At the same time, she had to learn the ins and outs of being a publisher, including all the legal aspects of the business.
And her work is being recognized. Rebuck has been honored with a 2015 EPPY Award honorable mention for best photojournalism, four first-place awards in the 2015 America East Digital Media Contest and 2015 Keystone Professional Excellence in Journalism awards from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.
Rebuck was even invited to the White House in 2015 as part of an Instameet event, in which only 40 photographers on Instagram were chosen to meet official White House photographer Pete Souza.
Moving forward, Rebuck plans to hire more staff because she’s learned that if she continues to run the site alone, it won’t be sustainable. But for other publishers looking to break into digital, Rebuck wants to pass on her knowledge by teaching seminars and workshops.