Home' Local Media Today : March 2011 Contents 14 | SUBURBAN PUBLISHER | March 2011
Among other aspects of your new
newsroom is an ‘open to the public’
Newsroom Café with inexpensive coffee and
pastries for sale, along with free WiFi. How
has this been received by the community
and how do you manage this quasi-retail
environment? Do you staff it?
The café has been used for everything
from informal weekly women’s knitting
circles, to a study area for high school and
college students, to a meeting place for old
friends and entrepreneurs plotting their next
startup. Free WiFi, for one thing, is not avail-
able in very many places in our community.
We were careful to approach the café part
of this project with realistic expectations. It
was not realistic to get into the restaurant
business, with health permits, etc. So we have
pastries delivered individually-wrapped from
a local bakery, and we have a restaurant-grade
Keurig machine for coffee that is basically
self-serve. We extended classified advertising
representative hours to match the hours of
the café being open so that staff who already
handle money could take care of that aspect
of the operation. That avoided the need to
hire people just to deal with the café.
You run a ‘Fact Check’ box at the end of
every story on your site which enables
readers to set the record straight if they spot
wrong or inaccurate information. What do
you do with these comments?
When we get a “Fact Check” report, it
goes back to the reporter and editors
who worked on the story to investigate, or an
available newsroom staffer. Once the mistake
is confirmed, we change the online version of
the story, note the correction at the bottom
of the story, and run formal corrections in
our print edition (if the story appeared there)
and our online corrections page. I would
point people interested in this idea to The
Washington Post. They recently unveiled a
Fact Check program that is a huge improve-
ment over what we have done. We’ll be copy-
ing them soon! You can see there page here:
Your new newsroom also includes
workstations for area bloggers to freely
use. Do you recruit them to write exclusively
for your news sites, or do you reach out to
bloggers who already have their own blogs?
Are they volunteer?
Our Community Media Lab is all about
“the link economy.” We don’t need to
“own” or have exclusive rights to the work
of local bloggers. Rather, we work with the
community at-large to build up a network
of citizen journalists who provide local and
niche news and information we would never
be able to get to, or in some cases, even know
about. We will link to a feed of posts from
existing blogs, only asking for a link back to
RegisterCitizen.com. For existing bloggers
and community members who want to get
started, we offer free use of our offices and
equipment, training in working with blogging
templates, editing video and other technology
and journalism topics. We have a full-time
“Community Engagement Editor” who is
primarily tasked with this. For many of our
partner bloggers, RegisterCitizen.com is their
number one referral source for traffic, which
can benefit them financially if they are selling
their own ads or they are hooked up with
Google AdWords or a similar program. In the
long-run, we see ourselves as stepping in to
help sell ads on this blogging network.
I imagine there could be some push-
back from your staffers. Tell us about
the reaction? How have you fostered a spirit
of cooperation and acceptance among your
Fully getting the concept of openness
and transparency has been a process,
but an exciting one. We have taken what would
have been internal discussions on policy over
online story commenting, corrections, etc.,
and held public meetings about them and
reached out via social media, live chats and
more to engage our readers. One of the things
that has perhaps helped us overcome any
hint of reluctance from the staff has been the
amazing amount of goodwill this project has
created in the community. Readers are kind
of shocked at how open we are, and also at
how much we are “giving away.”
If a paper could do just one or two of
the features of the open newsroom,
what aspects would you recommend?
Start with an open environment online
– do something like the Fact Check box,
overhaul your corrections policy. Peel back
the curtain and be transparent about how you
report the news and in admitting when you’re
wrong. Link to other sources of information.
Use social media to engage in a two-way
conversation with your readers instead of
just pushing out links to stories. Find ways to
develop a face-to-face relationship with your
community. It could be a newsroom coffee
shop, or regular forums on important local
topics at the library’s community room.
Any tips for other publishers who
might be considering similar conver-
sions? Practices to emulate? Avoid?
Capitalize on unique strengths or needs
in your community. Fill a void. Be an
entrepreneur instead of continuing to tweak
a model the audience and advertisers are
abandoning. Set realistic expectations and
small goals, and most of all, don’t abandon the
basic principles of openness and community
engagement because no one shows up for the
first public forum you hold. Try something,
don’t be afraid to fail, then try something else.
And empower your department heads and
staff to fail, as odd as that may sound!
Continued from page 2 | Open Newsroom
Aurora Sentinel is sold; Cochran ‘retires’
Harrison Cochran, the reigning SNA Dean Lesher award
winner, has retired from the Aurora Sentinel (CO) upon the
recent sale to the Aurora Media Group LLC. New publisher
James Gold, former senior executive with New York Times
Regional Group, will direct operations of The Sentinel
newspapers and associated media products.
As news of the transition spread, Cochran mused what
is next and said “The honest answer is, “I don’t know.” My
wish and bucket lists are long, and I suspect it will include
writing, some consulting to the publishing industry with
skiing and fishing mixed in for good measure. Seeing my
daughter through her last years of college is high on the list, too.”
The Aurora Sentinel — daily, weekly and online news and advertising source to
the state’s third-largest city —came under control of new owners Feb. 24, according
to officials from AMG and the sellers, the Aurora Publishing Co.
David Nesenoff, famed for Helen Thomas interview, appointed
publisher of The Jewish Star
Seven months ago, an interviewer's softball question to
Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House press corps,
"Any comments on Israel?" led to the explosive answer
that cost Thomas her job. Her proclamation for the Jews to
"get the hell out of Palestine... and go home to Poland and
Germany..." made news around the world. It also brought
notoriety to her interlocutor, David Nesenoff who has been
appointed publisher and editor of The Jewish Star by the
paper's owners, Clifford and Stuart Richner.
The Jewish Star is distributed in Nassau, Queens and
Brooklyn. Founded in 2002, the Jewish Star is owned by Richner Communications
Inc., in Garden City, NY.
Mary Lou Fulton named to Shaw Media Board of Directors
Mary Lou Fulton was elected to Shaw Media's Board of
Directors last month.
"Her acceptance of this important responsibility is great
news for our company, which is strategically building
talent at every level in the organization," said Tom Shaw,
President and CEO of Shaw Media. "Our future depends
on our people, and Mary Lou is a wonderful addition. We
are so happy she is joining our team."
A self-described media optimist, the Long Beach, Calif.,
native, brings 23 years of experience in the media and
publishing industries. Fulton's career has included everything from starting up
a community newspaper to leading Internet start-ups during the dot-com boom
and overseeing nationally recognized new-product development at the Bakersfield
Publisher Arthur W. 'Nick' Arundel dies at 83
Fauquier Times-Democrat publisher Arthur W. "Nick"
Arundel died in his sleep at his beloved Merry Oak Farm
His death came on the eve of yet another honor in a long
list of local, state, national and international acclaims. At the
age of 83, Arundel was to be named the Outstanding Virginian
of 2011 by the Virginia General Assembly today.
Arundel was one of the founding fathers of SNA and served
on the Board of Directors. He was presented with the Dean
Lesher award, the association’s lifetime achievement award,
in 1995. He also hosted SNA Fall Conference attendees in 1998
to a memorable reception and dinner at Merry Oak Farm.
His son Peter Arundel, a former member of the SNA Board of Directors, is now
president and chairman of the board of Times Community Media.
SNA Member News:
Mary Lou Fulton
Arthur W. “Nick”
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