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News consumption, including newspaper readership, is on the rise.

"Our writers are working to keep Southwest Louisiana abreast of the latest coronavirus news while also offering inspirational stories of how this pandemic is bringing out the best in our neighbors," said Crystal Stevenson, American Press Executive Editor. "The reporters are covering how city and parish governments are responding to the pandemic, how the local medical field is caring for patients while also facing staffing cutbacks, and how community volunteers are giving their time and resources to show their appreciation to those keeping us safe."

While schools are closed, the American Press also offers ways to keep children entertained, tips for parents who are now overseeing their child's education, and weekly activity pages to coincide with learning.

"We're also sharing tips on how to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime while local gyms and recreation centers are closed," Stevenson said. "We are writing about how local businesses have had to adapt to this odd time in our nation's history to stay afloat and also offering explainer pieces on how to apply for the many grants and loans available to those struggling."

 According to American Press Circulation Director Ava Yellott, the American Press is delivered daily to around 12,000 households and can be purchased at over 800 single-copy locations throughout Southwest Louisiana.

"This past month, we have had over 530,000 page views," said Heather Mulkey, American Press digital content coordinator. "That's up from the norm of about 350,000 page views."

"We're all going through tough times — not only here in Southwest Louisiana, but all over the world — so focusing on the positive ... especially when things look gloomy is helpful," said Cole.

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Add your business now, and let the community know 'What's Open'

Increased readership is good news for American Press advertisers navigating what is probably the roughest period they have ever encountered. Cole said some business owners have tweaked ads to fit the current climate. Some have taken advantage of the American Press online and in print program, "What's Open." This allows businesses to let American Press online and print readers know if local businesses are operating as usual, if businesses are closed or whether open businesses have different hours.

Kim King, American Press Classified Advertising Manager pointed out that not only are people spending more time reading the paper, but more parents are also using the Kid Scoop page in the American Press to help educate children while schools are closed.

kids scoop page

Kid Scoop is a colorful, engaging section that includes fun, informative children's content, simple code solving, word searches and writing assignments. This content follows the reading and writing literacy guidelines to help children prepare for the future.

"By associating your business or brand with a certain type of sponsorship — in this case, the importance of literacy — advertisers communicate their values to readers," said King. "Bubba Oustalet, Home Furniture, LNG Limited, Port of Lake Charles, Energy Transfer and Sweetlake Land and Oil Company make this content available. While Kid Scoop sponsorships are inexpensive, the impact to Southwest Louisiana children's futures is priceless. "

Another example of a best-fit sponsorship with a company's brand is Lake Charles Toyota's and Sowela's sponsorship of American Press Top Pick Prep Awards.

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Top Pick was developed to spotlight as many students in local schools as possible for their achievements. Photographs of Top Pick winners and a brief description of their interests will be published May 15, 2020.

Who can nominate a Top Pick student? Anyone, mom, grandparent, teacher, coach, friend, teammate or fellow club member. It's easy to do and it's absolutely free. (See "How-to…." for details.)

Existing categories are 4-H, Future Farmers of America, Band, Baseball, Softball, Golf, Swim, Track & Field, Cheerleading, Color Guard, Dance, Chess Team, Choir, Dance, Future Business Leaders of America, Key Club, Math Club, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Quiz Bowl Team, Art Club, Science Club, Student Council, Student Leader and Student Media.

If no category fits, enter a favorite high school student in any category and explain why.

"High school students are missing out on milestone events, especially seniors," said Mulkey. 

Nominations must be made by end of day Thursday, April 23. Voting begins Friday, April 24. Students with the most votes will be featured in the paper and online.

How to nominate and vote for Top Pick

To nominate a student: Go to americanpress.com/top-pick. Enter the student's name in the category of your choice, note their year in high school and upload a photo.

To cast a vote: Go to americanpress.com/top-pick and hit the "VOTE" button for the nominee of your choice. You can cast a vote for any nominee of your choice once an hour. Don't forget to hit the "SHARE" button to invite others to cast a vote.

"You can vote every hour," Mulkey said.

For advertisers who want to find out about how to become a sponsor of Kid Scoop or Top Pick, or how to list your business in "What's Open," call (337) 494-4095.

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