The Hound was launched on August 28, 2008. Since that time we have had 13,261 unique visitors. I have studied the issue and come up with an estimate that 1 out of 4 of those visitors resides in Hickory. That estimate would mean that 3,315 locals have looked at this blog.
Let's put that in perspective. That means that 1 out of every 12 people in Hickory have looked at this blog. That means that practically anywhere you go in this area, somebody knows about the Hickory Hound. Did you know that fewer than 5,000 voted in the city wide election two years ago? Did you know that only a little over 6,000 people voted in the city wide election four years ago, which included a Mayoral race.
People from all over the globe have looked at this blog and I think that is good for Hickory. Those visitors include people who were originally from here and want to check on home; people who reside here, but may be away at school, in the military, or some other venture; or people who might be researching the area to move here or possibly locate a business here. I have received messages from many different people who have happened upon this site and they are very much interested in our story.
The Hound has over 200 people who are on the various e-mail or message lists including Google Groups, Facebook, and Twitter. There I notify my frequently returning visitors of any new articles. Since last year, 203 articles have been introduced and I believe that I have been fair in those contributions. I have been chastised from all sides from time to time and I believe that says that the purpose is right on. Many times people have told me I am right on. Even when they tell me that they don't always agree with me, they say I have it right on most accounts. Hardly anyone has said that I don't have a clue.
Content wise, there have been 4 "10 Questions with ..." articles. I have not abandoned this idea and I look forward to expanding this over time. It's political season and people are posturing and preening, so right now it is hard to get polticos to participate. There have been 100 articles of Hickory Hound Commentary, 65 articles about Hickory City leadership, and 31 articles about Hickory City meetings. Many of the "Powers That Be" have had problems these articles, because this is where the criticism can be leveled. But, I believe that I have been fair in my assessments and when the evolutionary process of thought shows me to be wrong, I have admitted where I was wrong. It is obvious to many, that leaders in this area are not used to any level of criticism, whether judged to be fair or not, and they don't want anyone delving into their thought processes, especially when a negative light may be shed on their actions. I believe this blog has been a game changer in the area of accountability.
As we begin the second year of the Hound, I think people are starting to realize that we aren't going anywhere. The evolutionary process and this age of constant and rapid change may transform our mission, but my intent is to always make the Hound more accessible, more credible, and more integral to the needs of the people. This Blog is only about me to the extent of my opinions. I try to separate the facts from the opinion and I hope I do a good enough job of expressing the difference.
In the end, the Hickory Hound is about Hickory and its relationship to all of the people. It isn't just about Hickory's City Leadership or Hickory Proper's Citizens. It is about everyone who has a relationship with this city and this region and the effects that "Hickory" has on the world and the people based on Commerce, Governance, Politics, Action, and Quality of Life issues based upon "Hickory's" vitality, growth, and future. If you have never read The Objectives of the Hickory Hound, then I encourage you to do so. I believe we have adhered to these principles and this mission throughout the last year and we will continue to do so.
As we move forward, we will continue to gain more and more viewership, but I intend to have the same intent as day one. I am proud of how far we have come in the last year and I expect to see a lot more saturation in the near term. My intent is not to ruffle feathers, it is to move this area forward. I hope that you will continue to participate and that this Blog will be a source that you can continue to rely on to get information and depth of thought that just isn't available elsewhere. This is a community and I encourage you to participate and I appreciate any constructive comments you may offer.
James Thomas Shell