The Swinford Media Group is an arm of Swinford Publications LLC, owners of The Marion Star, The Herrin Independent and The Carterville Courier weekly newspapers. These newspapers served their communities for many years as traditional print publications featuring a level of professional journalism that is becoming harder to find in small town America.
Bill Swinford is co-owner and the Publisher of Swinford Publications. Since entering the newspaper business in his hometown of Herrin almost 35 years ago, he has worked as a reporter, production assistant, city editor, managing editor and publisher for local print publications.
Bill's oldest son, Riley Swinford, is co-owner and Editor of Swinford Publications. An honored graduate of Southern Illinois University’s school of journalism, Riley has worked in newspapers since the age of 10, when he took his first paper route (sometimes offering “The Riley Report,” his own publication that he produced and stuffed inside copies of the papers he delivered to inform and entertain his customers). By the time he had graduated Marion High School, he was Editor In Chief of “The Student” newspaper and was freelancing for local sports publications.
Riley first worked for Bill while in college as a copy and sports editor and, upon graduation, joined him full-time. In September 2014, the two joined forces to create and publish the first edition of The Marion Star. In 2018, Swinford Publications, LLC, was formed and purchased the Herrin Independent and Carterville Courier from Reppert Publications to complete the trio of Williamson County weeklies.
The 5,000 copies of each edition, distributed to mail subscribers and news racks around the county, make them the most highly-circulated print publications in the county. Today, with a staff of three full-time and five part-time reporters/photojournalists and a dozen or so other contributing writers and beloved columnists who have been staples in local media for decades, we document our county with issues that are read cover-to-cover and kept on coffee tables for days, weeks and, sometimes, as keepsakes for years.
Since the origins of Swinford Publications, several local businesses have seen the need to support this type of journalism and the access it gives its sponsors to a large audience. These businesses have stood with the Swinfords for many years, now, and been the backbone of their work. At a time when some abandoned print advertising, these businesses found their affordable rates and the popularity of their pages to be an effective choice, while also sustaining one of the most valuable assets of any small town: professional journalism.
In 2019, the Swinfords introduced “The Marion Stars,” an award gala at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center, honoring so many of the people who make that city great. Dozens of trophies and gifts were given to community volunteers with our thanks for their work. Advertisers sponsored this event, blessing so many people in the process. They also support the business and volunteer efforts in their other communities, with memberships and board seats on several Chambers of Commerce.
Much of our popularity is linked to our dynamic coverage of local sports. In 2019, in an effort to give advertisers extra value made possible by the talented team that we had assembled, we began to livestream high-quality broadcasts of Marion Wildcat sporting events through the Marion Star’s popular Facebook page. Thousands began tuning in with each game, sometimes even hosting watch parties to watch our streams.
Also in 2020, our livestream team branched into daily news and sports broadcasts called “The Marion Star Live!” With the shutdown caused by the Pandemic in March of that year, our informative broadcasts immediate drew a large audience, providing the latest information through social media in between editions of our print publications.
That summer, our livestream team also joined with Marion leadership to produce broadcasts from the stage of the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. “The Empty Concert Series” brought musicians and other entertainment into homes while venues remained shuttered to live audiences. And “Marion United” was a telethon we helped produce and stream to raise $200,000 for help small businesses suffering due to COVID-19 restrictions.
At the same time, we grew our team to include several young reporters and assistant producers, some still in high school. Their enthusiasm fueled us through many long days and nights of round-the-clock coverage of the Pandemic, social unrest and community activism.
Again, our advertising sponsors – some of whom were dealing with their own financial challenges caused by the shutdown – stepped up and kept the presses and the cameras rolling.
In the spring of 2021, high school sports were allowed on the field but, in some cases, the average fan could not attend due to restrictions. At the request of Marion High School, we increased the number of sports and contests that we streamed for the benefit of those who wanted to attend, but weren’t allowed or had health concerns. While some other schools contracted with a national company to provide lower-quality livestreams while also charging viewers, with the help of our sponsors we have always produced our streams at no cost to the viewers or the school district.
In the Fall of 2021, we added a monthly "Herrin Live!" video news magazine to our roster of offerings to the public and our sponsors. It became immediately popular, prompting our team to begin planning other digital products that will further branch into the western section of Williamson County.
Other services, such as free streams of veterans ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, Chamber awards events, and even funerals have been produced, all made possible by our underwriting sponsors.
Both businesses and individuals can work with the most highly-respected news source in Williamson County with an annual partnership that ensures the continuation of quality hometown journalism while doubling the value of marketing investment. Swinford Media Group's Star Partners program also associates your name or brand with the collaborative and community-minded efforts of the Swinford Media Group and our other Star Partners.
Join Star Partners like the Watermark Auto Group, Black Diamond Harley Davidson and other local leaders who are helping make our county the best place to live in the region!
There are three levels to the program:
Major Partners: $1,000 monthly (or $10,000 annually, if prepaid): Weekly print placement of your messaging in 3 papers (up to a 1/4 page) utilizing traditional display advertising, advertorials or, on occasion, sponsored features: $250 weekly value, a $13,000 actual annual value.
Sponsorship of our subscriber email updates, issued 2-3 times weekly with the latest news, obituaries and inside information from our team.
Top tier sponsorship of digital video posts or livestreams based in your community, including athletics livestreams, special events, “Live” newscasts: a $6,000 actual annual value.
Production of one free 15-30 second commercial spot by our media team, with discount consideration for additional spots: a $1,000 actual annual value.
1/2 page display advertising included in any special sections produced by Swinford Publications, including our very popular Veterans Section in November: Value up to $1,000
Monthly social media support with graphics/photos/art specific to your needs and special promotional consideration through our channels.
Priority access to a member of our team to craft your Partner package to continue to suit your evolving needs.
Weekly delivery of a bundle of (up to) 50 copies of the edition of your choice to your location.
Partners $600 monthly (or $6,600 annual if prepaid): Weekly print placement of your advertisement in 3 papers (up to a 1/8 page): $150 weekly value, $7,800 annual value
Sponsorship of digital video posts or livestreams based in your community, including athletics livestreams, special events, “Live” newscasts: a $3,000 actual annual value
1/4 page display advertising in our very popular Veterans Section in November: $300 value
Monthly “check-ins” with a member of our team to craft your Partner package to continue to suit your evolving needs.
Weekly delivery of a bundle of (up to) 20 copies of the edition of your choice to your location.
Patrons (individuals or couples) $50 monthly: Weekly listing of your support in our publications. A free quarterly 1/8 page advertisement to support a cause or event of your choice (these can be banked for larger ads or consecutive runs and are great to pass along to your church, club or favorite charity). Free subscriptions to Swinford Publications. Access to weekly PATRON EMAILS from our publisher with inside information not offered to other subscribers.
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