Here comes year four

They say when you climb a ladder quickly, about half the time you’re dangling in the air and moving on momentum.


We just passed our third full year here at the Pen City Current and are flying into the fourth year. I’m not sure about climbing any sort of a proverbial ladder quickly, but we’re certainly flying most of the time.

During the holidays, typically it’s slower moving news because everyone’s gearing up for family time and well, people typically are getting ready to party.

Each time we’ve rolled over a year, I’ve tried to take the opportunity to do a few special things. First and foremost to thank the people of Fort Madison and the surrounding north Lee County communities for their support during the year.

Our advertisers are one of a kind people, who not only advertise because they feel we have a dynamic and up-to-date local news outlet, but also because they see value in the product. We have a unique offering that has open-ended exposure based on how compelling the news is and how good we are at writing it.

We’ve moved to more than 7,600 Facebook followers and have had 3.2 million views on our website. Again, those are up and down depending on the dynamics of the news day. This week was heavy, and one day we had more than 33,000 people check in. That’s a lot of impressions due to very unique and tragic news.

But most people see what we see. Gathering news isn’t a free enterprise. And even though we don’t charge for subscriptions to our product, we have many people who pay us monthly for the product because they, too, see that value. We thank you, too! Without our advertisers and our subscribers we can’t continue to climb the ladder.

It’s our sincere hope that our momentum continues in the next decade. We had some personnel and product changes in 2019, but we think now we’re positioned to bring you more of the news, sports, and information you need – when and where you need it.

No… we don’t get to everything. I had a guy stop me in the street while I was at a police incident Thursday morning and say, “Man, you get to everything don’tcha?”.

“We try,” I replied. But we do miss things with a news staff of one and what’s even greater about the people that support our product is they’re there to help fill in the cracks with submissions and photos. We thank you, too! It’s that partnership that makes this enterprise work.

We’re looking at different ideas and how to take what we’ve built and create even more synergies within our coverage area. We’re open to new ideas from you. I think you all have my phone number. You certainly have my email. Send me any thoughts you have. What would you like to see more of in a community news outlet?

It is our goal, and has been, to add writing staff this year. We don’t know what that looks like yet, but we would currently be interested in talking to those who have some background in writing and have some experience with government, education, sports, photography, etc.

You can’t be afraid to ask questions and conduct interviews, but at the end of the day we’re just writing stories about the people of these communities. It’s their story, we’re just putting it down on “e” paper.

So give me a call, shoot me an email, text, video….whatever. We’re gonna be here listening to scanners, working sources and meetings, and covering sports. It’s what we do.

And speaking of what we do, I was at the Holy Trinity boys basketball game Friday night. The Crusaders lost by one to Burlington Notre Dame as Quentin Schneider missed a driving layup from the left baseline and fell to the court as time expired.

This kid slapped the floor, jumped up and shook hands with the Nikes, and then ran over to a young boy on the first bleacher in the home stands who had a sign that read “Quentin Schneider’s No. 1 Fan”. Schneider stood with the boy for some time taking pictures.

Friday night I loved my job even more. And that IS the point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current. He can be reached at

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