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BY TOM MITSOFF
Northern Kentucky is ready for a newspaper it can call its own.
Focus groups and scientific polls conducted in the past year confirmed that suspicion to the executives of Covington-based Challenger Communications. The Boone-Campbell-Kenton county region has grown up, maturing to the point that it no longer has to settle for oh-by-the-way news coverage provided by the major media companies operating in Cincinnati.
Did you know that the tri-county NKY region has more people than the city of Cincinnati? That's what the U.S. Census Bureau says in its most recent population projections for the year 2002. Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties were home to 333,358 people in 2002, according to Census Bureau estimates. Between the years 2000 and 2002, NKY caught up to and then surpassed Cincinnati city in total population.
NKY's estimated population is also more than the cities of Louisville, Lexington, Anaheim, Calif., Pittsburgh, Toledo, Buffalo, Tampa, Raleigh, N.C. and St. Paul, Minn., to name just a few.
Obviously the entire metropolitan regions of those cities, including their suburbs, are larger than the tri-county NKY region. It is an apples-to-oranges comparison. But it is just one way to put some perspective on what is happening here. Who knew that Cincinnati has actually become a suburb of NKY?
Something everyone did know is the fact that NKY has left Cincinnati in the dust as an entertainment and free-time destination. There aren't many reasons left, other than big-time sports and major theatre productions, to cross the river.
Even with all that the tri-county region has going for it, there is still a lingering lack of identity — other than as "the southern side of Cincinnati," as a recent ad campaign tried to brand the area.
The region also has grown accustomed to its status as a forgotten corner of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Actress Ashley Judd recently authored a guest column for Sports Illustrated about her avid interest in University of Kentucky basketball. She wrote that basketball is the common thread that unites a state with many diverse regions:
"… from the mountains of the east, where my family hails; to the central bluegrass, where we have a proud tradition of raising the world's best thoroughbreds; to the farmlands of the west …"
Like too many Kentuckians, she overlooked NKY.
Legislators in Frankfort enjoy the tax revenues NKY pumps into the state coffers, but only a fraction of those dollars are returned to this area. It's a dysfunctional relationship: Northern Kentucky gives much more to Frankfort than it receives.
The time for Northern Kentucky to step out of the shadows has arrived. When you look at Cincinnati's almost comical city council and political leadership vacuum, it's no surprise that NKY's population gain has been the Queen City's loss. There is absolutely no reason why Northern Kentucky should take a back seat to Cincinnati in any regard. There is also no reason why Northern Kentucky should continue to get short-changed by the State Legislature.
In early July, over 60,000 homes in Northern Kentucky will begin receiving The Sunday Challenger, a weekly newspaper devoted to the tri-county region, cover to cover. A great region deserves a great newspaper, and that is what we at Challenger Communications will deliver. We will shine the spotlight on what's great about Northern Kentucky, along with aspects of NKY which need improvement. We will tell you not only what's happening in your community, but also why you should care about it. We will report extensively on state government and the impact that decisions made in Frankfort have on Northern Kentucky and on you.
This website, ChallengerNKY.com, will be The Sunday Challenger's online home. While we will print extensive, in-depth reporting on Sundays and post those stories here, ChallengerNKY.com will be your only Northern Kentucky-based source for NKY updates during the course of the week.
The Sunday Challenger and ChallengerNKY.com will give Northern Kentucky what it deserves: In-depth, accurate reporting that provides not only information but perspective on NKY life.
The Challenger will also provide what Northern Kentucky has not had: a newspaper it can call its own.
(Tom Mitsoff is the editor of The Sunday Challenger and ChallengerNKY.com.)
This column was published June 15, 2004, on ChallengerNKY.com, and on July 4, 2004, in The Sunday Challenger, serving Northern Kentucky, USA.
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