The Flyer wasn’t always the online newsmagazine it is today; in it’s early years, it was a highly sought after print publication.
When Fairmont was separated into Fairmont East and West, they each had their own newsmagazines. Fairmont West had The Dragon and East had The Falcon. When the two schools combined, not only did they make one high school, but they also made one magazine, The Flyer.
Robert Riley was the first adviser of The Flyer in 1984. He taught yearbook and Flyer for 30 years. In his 30th year, Riley became very sick and sadly passed away. Janie Ross then came to Fairmont in late 1999 and would soon take over Fairmont Publications.
Upon Ross’ arrival to Fairmont, she advised both yearbook and Flyer. However, after six years of heading both publications, she decided it was too much. She handed the yearbook over to Jessica Stickel, who is still the Yearbook adviser today. Ross went on to teach Flyer for ten more years.
When The Flyer was still a printed publication, the staff provided a monthly issue, sold to students for usually $1.50. “I feel the students got a lot for their money because we very typically had 48 pages each month,” Ross said.
Despite it’s success, The Flyer went through a recession time. They were losing money, which made selling the monthly newspaper harder. Ross had a background in journalism, but not advertising. She had some big decisions to make because the world was moving forward in technology and Ross wanted Flyer to as well.
It would cost hundreds of dollars to print the Flyer each month. With a population of nearly 2,500 students, the goal was to get a Flyer in the hands of each student. This required a lot of money and raising it wasn’t always easy.
“We had been running out of money for a while. I didn’t want to make my Flyer kids responsible for spending more of their time to raise money to try and keep us in print,” Ross said.
After many nights of contemplation, she made the difficult choice to move online. There was not a direct change to online, stories slowly moved from paper to the website. Their publication changed from 48 pages to four, in hopes to gradually shift their readers to the online format.
The internet was not easily accessible to everyone and it was harder for students to utilize. Flyer lost engagement with the student body because of this. “There may have been some things that we could’ve done differently. It just seemed like people couldn’t get away from actually reading the Flyer in their hand,” Ross said.
Without student communication, Flyer lost recognition around Fairmont. “There was a lot more one on one interaction when we sold The Flyer down in the lunchroom. It gave us a chance to do some fun things that we weren’t really able to do online,” Ross said.
Student communication was part of the original purpose of The Flyer. It was not to be an opinion magazine or focus solely on Fairmont. “We had mission statements that we followed,” Ross said, “Our mission statement was to inform and entertain Fairmont student body, staff, parents, and the larger Fairmont community.”