published Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Gerber: Text messages a new way to get your daily news fix

The days of getting news only in the newspaper are long gone.

In addition to delivering news via our website,, and our mobile app, the newspaper is sending out news via text messages.

Want to know what’s holding up traffic on Interstate 24 before you head home for the day? If your kid’s school has closed because it might snow? If Tennessee beat LSU?

These are the types of items we’ll send directly to your mobile phone.

If you sign up, we’ll send messages of up to 135 characters to your mobile phone with daily updates on weather, severe storms, school closings, bad traffic. You can also get breaking news and scores for favorite college and professional teams.

The updates come from 423706 — two area codes in the region the Times Free Press covers — and you can sign up for text updates at the Time Free Press website. You can select all topics or just one.

Texting is ubiquitous these days.

On Wednesday, a newsroom coworker texted me while sitting at his desk, which is about 30 feet from where I sit. Not long ago, someone texted me from across the room at a meeting.

When my text messaging service was dead for half a day, I felt horribly out of touch. While my reaction may have been somewhat overdramatic, it did make me think about how we’ve come to rely on the instant and informal method of communication.

A text message allows you to find out what happened fast and get back to whatever you’re doing. Our job at the newspaper is to disseminate information — whether it’s to your computer, your phone or your driveway.

A Verizon study a few years ago found that Tennessee is the

“textiest” state in the Southeast because its residents sent and received the most text messages per month, based on that company’s data.

The “Big City Wireless Use Study” placed Chattanooga as the third most texting Tennessee city, behind Nashville and Knoxville, with 408 million text messages from 2006 to 2008. In that time period, text messaging in Tennessee grew by 520 percent, the study found.

No doubt the number of Tennessee and Georgia texters has jumped even higher since then.

If you’re a texter and want to be kept up to date, sign up at for the paper’s messages.

Alison Gerber is the managing editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at agerber@timesfree Send suggestions to readerfeedback@timesfree

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