We Love Dexter wasn’t originally intended to be a local news source. This was my big surprise in sitting down with founder Rob Ewing, my boss (my words not his, he wants to make clear), to find out why he started this online newspaper.
“My original intention for We Love Dexter wasn’t for news but to be an informational site for people considering making Dexter their home,” Rob said.
What I would find out is that this is one of those cases where one thing leads to another … as things always do … and here we are.
Realtor Rob Ewing of Ewing Pros, a Charles Reinhart Company, and his team talk with prospective buyers about communities as much as they do the actual homes. Buying a home is buying into a community. Rob wanted to create a resource people could use to learn more about these communities.
He created Discover Communities LLC as a promotional company for neighborhoods and communities. His intention was to produce informational videos that prospective customers could use in their decision making process. The first video was Discover Dexter.
“We were just going to do a straight forward video that shows where the grocery store is, over there is the park, these are the schools, etc.,” Rob says. “But after a couple of video shoots, my son Steve who runs his own video production company, suggested ‘Dad, why don’t you let me organize this?’ Well, I’ve learned that when it comes to anything technology oriented, let the next generation lead.”
The resulting success was more than Rob expected. He and his team at Ewing Pros began showing it to clients interested in locating in the Dexter area. He made it available to the Dexter Chamber of Commerce who put it up on their website. Word got around and people were soon asking Rob for copies of his video.
“After about 20 or 30 of those requests, I thought ‘We’ve got to do something here,’” Rob says. “I had We Love Dexter and We Love Ann Arbor set up as WordPress blog sites under the Discover Communities canopy as informational sites about the communities. We weren’t doing much with those sites so we put the video on We Love Dexter for people to visit.”
And that was as far as Rob intended We Love Dexter to go – an informational site about Dexter for folks considering moving there.
Enter now Sean Dalton of Heritage Newspapers who published the now defunct Dexter Leader. We Love Dexter had gotten his attention as a great way to focus on local news that might slip below the radar and budget of larger publishers. He suggested to Rob that his sites could become a great source for community news.
“I wasn’t against the idea, but I wasn’t really for it either,” says Rob. “I’m a full-time realtor and not looking to begin a journalistic endeavor.” Rob didn’t immediately jump on board with the notion, but a series of events gave him reason to reconsider.
It wasn’t long after this that Heritage began closing up shop and The Dexter Leader would soon disappear. Ewing Pros had been doing a lot of advertising with Heritage Newspapers in both Dexter and Chelsea. The Dexter Leader was a good source for advertising real estate.
Ewing Pros was losing its big advertising venue and Rob began considering where to spend the advertising budget once Heritage was gone. He reconsidered his conversation with Sean and thought, “Well, maybe there is something here that makes sense.”
Rob took the advertising budget for Ewing Pros and directed it to We Love Dexter as a source for local community news. With Sean Dalton at the helm, the plan was for a video emphasis in news coverage and interviews.
“With Heritage shutting down, We Love Dexter kind of exploded in different ways,” Rob explains. “The demand for local news was more than we had expected which created a lot more work than we expected which created a lot more cost than I was expecting.”
“We began to seek out community-minded advertisers who bought into the idea of local news coverage,” says Rob. “The next thing you know, we’ve got an online newspaper business.”
Since that unlikely start, one thing continues to lead to another … as things always do. Sean has since moved on into a job in sales for a different company. Terry Jacoby, who covers sports, is directing most of his efforts in building We Love Dexter’s sister site, We Love Ann Arbor. The owner of Foggy Bottom Coffee House (that’s me for you newcomers), which closed up shop in January 2016, now writes most of the content, part-time, for We Love Dexter as budget allows.
What keeps the two local news sites going is Rob’s drive for local news that might otherwise go unreported and a philanthropic spirit. “The communities have been good to me and I do like the idea of giving back,” Rob says. “These two sites are more local news than the newspapers because folks have easier access and input. If somebody has a story, we’d like to hear about it.”
Rob says, “One of the bigger moments I’ve had with We Love Dexter was at a fundraiser when a past client gave me a big hug and said, ‘We get all our news from We Love Dexter.’”
And one thing continues to lead to another … as things always do.
I continue to learn the craft of writing. More and more folks are coming to us with stories. If you have a story, we’d like to hear from you. We continue to grow in our ability to cover what’s happening as our budget allows. If you’d like to advertise on We Love Dexter, have we ever got a great deal for you.
THANK YOU to all of our advertisers who have jumped on board to support a source for community news.
THANK YOU to those of you who have donated privately to support We Love Dexter.
If you have a story, or would like to advertise, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to support your local news, you can do it here.
Thanks for reading.