One year ago Tuesday, February 6, The Tennessee Star launched into the news media scene. Since then, the news organization has filed more than 4,500 stories and received over five million visits from people all over Middle Tennessee, across the Volunteer State and around the world.
“I remember that first moment when we went live,” Managing Editor Christina Botteri said. “It was like being all ready for a party, but before anyone shows up…. Will anyone come? Will they see what we are doing and appreciate the fresh take on the news of the day?”
Botteri didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Within the first 24 hours, the brand-new website had over 3,000 unique visitors, and over 9,000 visits. “We out performed our projections by a factor of three,” Botteri said.
“By the end of our first month – a mere 22 days – we were visited over 175,000 times,” Botteri recalled, adding, “We realized almost immediately we would have to upgrade our servers in order to handle all the the traffic.”
Through March, The Star began reporting on Governor Haslam’s gas tax hike proposal and readership soared to over 285,000 visits within that 31-day period alone, followed by another uptick in readership, with a whopping 370,000 visits in that next 30-day span.
“We launched our original Constitution Series in April, which concluded toward the end of September with a first-in-Tennessee Constitution Bee, and our response was overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
The Constitution Series has since evolved into The Constitution Project, and with their partners at The Polk Foundation, the Series has been developed into a supplementary text for secondary school students, which Project organizers are working to make available to all Tennessee students to help fulfill new state education standards requiring teaching the United State Constitution and all of the Amendments.
“The Star reached its first million-visit-mark May 22,” Botteri said. “And 49 days later we doubled that number to two million visits!”
The upstart new outlet has also added polling with partner Triton Polling and Research. “Unlike many of the ‘mainstream’ outfits, our findings have been consistently accurate,” Botteri said.
In fact, the logarithmic increase in traffic can be traced directly to The Star’s coverage of the top three areas of most concern for Middle Tennesseans, as reported in the the first Tennessee Star-Triton Poll released in June, together with a fundamental understanding of the algorithms that drive social media traffic.
“Our poll results track with what we observe personally, which is that there are three over-arching areas of great interest for the people of Middle Tennessee,” Botteri said.
“People are more concerned than ever about the very real issues of unregulated, lawless immigration policy; insatiable and cavalier government taxation and spending; the seemingly constant infringement of their Constitutional protections by well-connected special interests; and the emerging threats of unchecked government bureaucrats using their vast powers to target and destroy America citizens they deem “deplorable.” These are things that effect people in their every day lives, which is why no amount of name-calling by the Left or cheap speechifying on the Right will make it all go away.
“Middle Tennesseans are smart, hard-working people who – more and more – are telling us they are sick of being called the most vile names because they want solutions and results that are respectful to citizens. After all, they are the ones paying for it!” Botteri said.
This is the ‘America First’ perspective that fueled the Tea Party sea change from 2009 through the 2016 elections, that resulted in well over a thousand wins by Republicans across the country as well as the platform President Trump ran and won on.
The newest addition to The Tennessee Star news and information suite of unique services is the Tennessee Star Insider Briefing. Set to begin February 15, the Insider Briefings are specialized, in-person meetings with business owners, executives, and key influencers to discuss the latest news and information that will impact businesses and communities.
“We are very excited to share that our first Insider Briefing filled up in a matter of hours,” Botteri said. As for the specifics of what will be discussed, “You have to be in the room to find out,” she joked.
Over the course of its first year in business, The Star has consistently served up original, breaking legislative news and insightful commentary about politics and policy in Tennessee, while also covering illegal immigration and refugee resettlement issues in a way not seen at all in other, mainstream news outlets in Tennessee.
“Our subject matter experts are among the best in the nation, and have an ‘unblinking eye’ on these critical matters,” Botteri said. “These stories are sometimes outrageous and often heartbreaking. But we believe people have a right to know how local, state, and national decisions are being made, and how those decisions might effect the health and safety of citizens and residents in our area.”
Each weekday morning, a short summary of the day’s breaking news is emailed as The Tennessee Star Daily; and on Sunday afternoons, The Tennessee Star Weekend Review recaps the week’s biggest headlines.
“Our open and engagement rates for the Tennessee Star Daily are literally off-the-charts,” she continued. “We regularly perform at 200% and more above the industry standard.”
The Tennessee Star site is a for-profit enterprise, and has attracted a significant number of local advertisers since its launch a year ago.
“I am proud to say we have remained profitable in each quarter of operation through our first year, which is simply unheard of for a new media start-up,” Botteri said. “It just goes to show you that our fantastic advertisers recognize that The Star fills an unmet need in the Tennessee marketplace: fact-based news written from a conservative worldview.”