Bibliophile: Reading the News with Publisher Kathy Kolb

By Robin Van Auken
The Wholehearted Author

 

Kathy Kolb is the publisher of NorthcentralPA.com, a news outlet that’s been online since 2009, and she’s been steadily growing since then by personally connecting with her readers.

I know, this sounds impossible — how do you connect with thousands of people? She’s accomplished this by building an amazingly loyal Facebook following, which total tops out at 31 thousand people!

Kathy’s been chronically ill for the past 30 years. This illness prevents her from having an active life, physically, but she’s more than made up for it with her online presence.

Before she started her news site, she operated Kolb Net Works, a web design and development company, and she was helpful in creating most of the early websites of local companies, non profits and even government entities.

For many years, along with the J.V. Brown Library, Kathy hosted hundreds of local non-profit websites. I built many of those sites, and I was grateful that she created this absolutely free platform.

But, she always had a vision of what local news should look like online, and when this wasn’t accomplished by other local news organizations, Kathy decided to make this vision a reality. She imagined a community of citizen journalists, people who take ownership of the news and events that affect them, and that’s exactly what she’s created, along with her husband, Lou Kolb.

Kathy wants to make sure that community news is easy to access, but also that it will always be preserved. As traditional newspapers struggle to create new identities and to survive in the Internet age, they can learn much from a web guru like Kathy. She studies the analytics behind the curtain, so she knows what drives people to read and share and respond to online news content.

None of this mattered, though, when she shared her first scanner report. That, she did out of common courtesy to her readers. People were in the dark, literarily because the power was out, and frightened about a high-speed chase between a police officer and a criminal. The tragedy that ensued that night is not easily forgotten, and it shouldn’t be. A person died as a result.

That Kathy was able to share news in real-time was an amazing hat trick, but it was also a gesture of generosity. She takes her role as a news publisher seriously, and loves her hometown. Despite illness and fatigue that comes with it, she devotes herself — and her personal income — to making sure that people can have local news.

By being present, and being consistent, Kathy was able to build her followers. But more importantly, she didn’t just post on Facebook and sign off. She stayed online and updated people when she had updates.

She participated in the conversation and she kept the conversation civil, also, which is difficult to do with a social media platform like Facebook.

I’m a huge fan of Kathy Kolb. She’s a technophile, like me, and we enjoy learning new things and sharing with other what works. She’s a kindred spirit who has helped enlarge my world, and I’m grateful to her.

Oh yes, we also talk about audio books we’ve been listening to, and here’s a couple that we chat about.

After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam

After the Prophet - Let's Talk Books

In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than ever.

Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, beginning a succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil war, pitting its founder’s controversial wife Aisha against his son-in-law Ali, and shattering Muhammad’s ideal of unity.

Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile intersection of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia–Sunni split.
Read more

The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set)

The Story of Civilization (11 books in series)

The Story of Civilization, by husband and wife Will and Ariel Durant, is an eleven-volume set of books covering Western history for the general reader. The volumes sold well for many years, and sets of them were frequently offered by book clubs.

The series was written over a span of more than four decades. It totals four million words across nearly 10,000 pages, but is incomplete. In the first volume (Our Oriental Heritage, which covers the history of the East to 1933), Will Durant stated that he wanted to include the history of the West to the early 20th century. However, the series ends with The Age of Napoleon because the Durants both died – she in her 80s and he in his 90s – before they could complete additional volumes.

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