Small Town News
Cheney Free Press launches 'See E.Wa app'
The oldest source of news on the West Plains is embracing some of the newest technology as it moves forward with its mission.
The Cheney Free Press launched its "See E.Wa" app in an effort to remain solid in its mission that has gone on since the paper was established in 1896.
"There's been talk that people on the West Plains need to have instant communication and this app is going to allow us to do that to a certain extent," publisher Harlan Shel-labarger said.
One of the elements of the app, available free of charge from either the Apple or Android stores and found by searching for "see Eastern Washington," are the push notifications.
"The cities, the school districts, the university â€” if they're interested in taking advantage of it â€” could notify us if there was an emergency, or something happening," Shellabarger said.
Everybody who has downloaded the app and registered a phone will receive a text message. "The beauty of it is it's on your phone and once you open it and read it then it's gone," Shellabarger said.
Information in the app will come from Cheney, Airway Heights and Medical Lake and all three cities will help promote it to their residents.
Cheney will put out information in their February utility bill. Airway Heights has already put the word out to its utility customers and Medical Lake will help promote the app in the next community newsletter in March.
"We're trying to make it West Plains, Eastern Washington centric," Shellabarger said. It's his desire to use it as a vehicle to promote news and events to the area the Free Press circulates.
With that said SeeE. Wa will also promote popular area attractions like Riverfront Park, Riverside State Park, the many area lakes, the Ice Age Floods, Turnbull, EWU, and much, much more.
"For the community or even parents of new Eastern (Washington University) students can download the app and have access to maps to know where buildings on campus are," Shellabarger said. "It's really a cool deal."
The app is a nice combination with the newspaper but it's not going to take the place of the Free Press which will celebrate its 120th birthday in April.
The app was developed by BarZ Adventures from Austin, Texas. While they design apps for a variety of customers, they build ones for a number of newspapers. "They've been great to work with and kind of holding our hand through all this," Shellabarger said.
"That's what led me to go with them. I spoke to some of their customers and they were happy with the way things went," Shellabarger said.
Development of See E.Wa started in October 2015. And despite a variety of challenges, the launch came out on time. "It's a work in progress to some extent and it always will be," Shellabarger explained. "It's not something that you can just set it and forget it."
"Timing is everything and I picked the worst time," he admitted. Speed bumps came in the form of the Nov. 17 windstorm, Thanksgiving and then Apple shut down for the holidays. "We had to really scramble to get everything in there so they could look at it so we could launch it on the (Jan.) 5th like we had intended."
In addition to being a source for immediate information, and a marketing tool for businesses, the app will provide information found in the Free Press. The full stories will be found in the actual newspaper, be it the traditional printed version or the online edition.
The major takeaway for Shellabarger so far has been the experience of dealing with Apple. "They run the (tech) world and they know it and you play by their rules."
A lot of what the Free Press covers â€” local governments, schools and sports â€” is never published elsewhere Shellabarger said. "I think print will always be around but this is a nice compliment."
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.
"There's been talk that people on the West Plains need to have instant communication and this app is going to allow us to do that to a certain extent."
Cheney Free Press publisher Harlan Shellabarger
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