OPINION COLUMNS

Making Welcome to Wise was quite the ‘Trip’

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, August 5, 2015
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Fifteen years ago this summer, I visited the Wise County Messenger for the first time when I interviewed for a reporter’s job.

I didn’t grow up around here, so Wise County was totally new to me.

Before I left the office that day, I picked up a publication that had just hit the newsstands: Welcome to Wise. Inside, I found just about everything I would want to know about Wise County.

I was impressed.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

So when I got job offers at two different newspapers in one day, I had a decision to make. Do I take a job in the Dallas suburbs, or do I head for Wise County?

There were several factors, obviously, but seeing what all Wise County had to offer helped me with my decision.

Over the next few years, I was able to contribute to Welcome to Wise, and for the past several years, it’s been my honor to head up the annual project.

I’ve never forgotten that first Welcome to Wise and how important it was in “selling” me on Wise County. It was a valuable tool for a newcomer like myself.

Last week Welcome to Wise 2015 was mailed to Wise County residents and delivered to places where visitors or newcomers typically drop in.

The publication has changed in the last 15 years. The 2000 version was an 84-page, tabloid-sized product with no stitching. It featured occasional splashes of color, but it was primarily black and white.

The latest version is a 140-page product with a magazine-style design. It features full-color ads and photos, along with a glossy cover.

It wasn’t until after I was thumbing through Welcome to Wise 2015 that a similarity between the two hit me: both covers feature people enjoying recreational opportunities at a local lake. The 2000 version features a couple of kids fishing, while the latest version features a mom and daughter on a Sea Doo.

This year’s cover almost wasn’t-to-be.

The past few years we’ve had problems getting good photos at Lake Bridgeport because it was so low. So during our planning meetings this year in May, when it seemed like it was raining just about every day and the lake was rising, we thought it was a good idea to not only get a photo at the lake but also make it the cover shot.

When the day came to shoot the cover, however, the lake had risen so much it was several feet above flood stage, and the lake was closed to boat traffic. We had to reschedule the lake shoot, and we shot an alternate cover at another location. Luckily, the lake opened back up just in time for us to beat our press deadline, and we were able to get the original shot we sought.

We based the theme of this year’s Welcome to Wise on the show “The Daytripper,” which can be seen on public television stations around Texas. The host visits certain Texas towns and interviews locals, mixing in humor as well.

We adapted that idea into Wise Trips, dividing the county into seven days worth of trips to different areas of the county. Since we based the theme on a television show, it was natural that we shoot video for each Wise Trip to correspond with a feature story in Welcome to Wise.

The idea was to feature a local eating place, something historical and possibly something recreational or otherwise unique about a community.

It was truly a team effort. Photographer Joe Duty and page designer/photographer Jimmy Alford shot all the video, and Jimmy edited the video. Reporters Richard Greene, Kristen Tribe, Travis Lisle, Racey Burden, Jimmy and myself wrote the stories. Richard provided the voice-over work, and Travis provided the guitar music you hear in the videos. Production manager Todd Griffith made sure the videos were properly uploaded to our website and our YouTube page.

If you are a newcomer or visitor to Wise County, stop in and grab Welcome to Wise. Even if you are a longtime resident, we hope you learned something new about our county after reading the publication and watching the videos.

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