Home' Local Media Today : February 2007 Contents FEBRUARY 2007
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newspaper analyst and a CEO of a lead-
ing community newspaper company.
Presentation from Cindy McCurry-
Ross, Senior Managing Editor for
Information Collection and team from
The News Press, Ft Myers, Florida.
Learn about radical changes that have
been made in this newsroom and other
departments to turn this Gannett newspa-
per into a news & information center. You
will hear from mojos and phojos (mobile
journalists and mobile photographers) and
other staff members on these changes
along with a progress report and lessons
learned in the first year of this bold
change in philosophy.
Community Newspapers Online - So
Many Questions, Who Has the Answers -
our panel will focus on staffing and train-
ing issues, marketing and developing the
Politics is Local; Understanding the
2008 Campaign. A big political season is
ahead and this session will emphasize the
local connection. This will apply to any
newspaper that covers elections on any
level including weeklies.
Best Web Practices – Learn from your
peers about what’s working in driving
audiences and advertisers to their web-
sites. Panel will include three executives
from daily papers and two from weeklies.
Great Ideas, Revenue Drivers – What’s
an SNA conference without a way to
cover the cost of attendance? Revenue
driving sessions, including the Great
Ideas contest, are a sure bet at delivering
new thinking that can immediately be
adopted back home. Be prepared to share
what’s working in your company and,
where applicable, bring examples to
Publishers & Editors Roundtables –
Informal discussion sessions are planned
to give attendees a chance to brainstorm
about issues faced in their local markets.
Social networking, an awards banquet
recognizing the 2006 SNA editorial
awards and a post-conference golf outing
round out the business meetings for a per-
fect blend of work and pleasure. The rela-
tionships built at SNA conferences are
often as valuable as the program itself.
Spring Publishers’ &
- c ontinued from page 1
AT A GLANCE
SNA Spring Publishers & Editors
March 28 - 30, 2007
Saddlebrook Resort, Tampa, FL
Special Family Owned Symposium
Disruptive Innovation Training
Full details at www.suburban-
news.org or by calling 888-486-2466.
Most of us who are not editors spend the bulk of our time focusing on matters like
ad count, revenues, circulation issues, HR concerns and the like. However, we can
often neglect to spend time thinking about the most important aspect of our busi-
ness -- the main reasons we are in business in the first place. That is our product. I
use the word "product" loosely, to make a point. Kleenex is nothing without tis-
sues. Crest is nothing without toothpaste. And we are nothing without the
news/editorial portion of the newspaper. It is the one thing we offer that makes us
relevant. It is the reason people pick us up. If readers don't read the paper, adver-
tisers won't get responses, and we won't stay in business for long. And so, like
Kleenex and Crest and other brands of products that spent time constantly thinking
about how to remain relevant to their customers, we need to spend time thinking
about how to be the best news source in our community.
We must commit to being THE source that readers trust for local news and infor-
mation, both in print and online. SNA members are in a unique and fortunate posi-
tion now. While major metro dailies are fighting the loss of circulation, our indus-
try is on an upswing. Interest in local and community newspapers continues to
grow. This is evidenced in part by the growing interest that major retailers have in
reaching our readers, and by the growth in circulation that our industry is seeing.
There seems to be a strong interest in being in touch with the community in which
people live. Being the source of that information is ours to lose.
Being THE source for local community news and information starts with quality
journalism. We should be committed to ensuring that our newsroom is focused on
quality. The old expression was "content is king". The new expression, with the
dawn of the net and the flood of data, not always from trusted resources, is "edited
content is king". And my addition that that phrase is "well edited content is king".
In our company, we made a decision to invest in quality editorial many years ago,
and have continued to make that commitment each year. It has paid off greatly. A
well edited paper with the right content will be sure to grow readership.
Beyond well-edited content, we must be sure that the content in our newspapers is
relevant to our readers. In other words, "local, local, local". People want to read
about their lives, their community, and their neighbors. They want to see photos of
their children and their friend's children in the paper. They want to read about their
children's sports. They want to find out what to do locally on the weekend, so a
well-edited calendar is crucial. They want to read about who got married, who is
engaged, who passed away, and who had a baby. They want to know about
reunions. They want to read about their schools, and about their local government
and what actions it is taking in their neighborhoods. They want to read crime
reports about their neighborhood and the surrounding area. And they want to read
about people--People who are doing amazing things in their communities, and peo-
ple who are just a part of the fabric of their collective lives.
In addition to insuring relevant content, we need to make sure that our newsrooms
are accessible to our readers. People and organizations want to know with confi-
dence that they can call and get info about their organization's chicken dinner into
the paper. It may not be a front page story or even a story at all, but it should at
least find its way into a calendar or "notes" section of the paper.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that we’ve got a lock on local, or that we’re safe from
competition. In a heartbeat, we could lose our franchise if we don't ensure that our
product, our news, is relevant to our readers, and that readers find a reason to con-
tinue to come back. I was recently at a symposium that described three keys to test
success. When applied to the news portion of our papers, they are valuable to help
examine if the newspaper is on track to remain the most important information
source locally. They are, paraphrased by me:
1. Does the newspaper have a reputation of value? Is it full of "good stuff"?
2. Does the newspaper create an enjoyable culture or environment for the reader,
based on trust and communication?
3. Does the newspaper have a nimble infrastructure, allowing it to quickly seize
opportunities to create value?
If we answer “no” to any of the above, correct the course now or risk failure.
I hope that all of us -- publishers, ad directors, sales people, editors, and anyone
else in the organization -- will take a look at the newspaper and give feedback
about the news content, considering if it is relevant to readers, if it is well-written
and edited and if the newsroom is accessible to readers.
Here's to publishing great newspapers that our readers can't wait to pick up (or visit
Chairman of the Board
SNA Board Chairman
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