No one doubts that the newspaper industry is experiencing enormous changes. But the news – whether bad or good – seemingly depends upon the size of the newsroom.
Yes, the big guys are in dire straits. No matter how many Sunday editorials are written proclaiming the situation isn’t as bad as it seems – well, truth is, the situation is flat-out dismal. Revenues have fallen, good journalists have lost jobs and the real losers are those who value quality journalism.
Thankfully, from our small corner of the journalistic world, things aren’t the same. To toss out today’s buzz word, the “economic model” employed by nondaily newspapers was never the same as that employed by the metropolitan big boys. So, we’ve seen the demise of the King County Journal and the transition of the Seattle P-I to an online-only entity, maintained by a limited staff. Others still are taking legal remedies to protect themselves from creditors and continue publishing.
But newspapers like the Enumclaw Courier-Herald and its sister publication, the Bonney Lake and Sumner Courier-Herald, aren’t going anywhere. The Enumclaw edition has enjoyed a loyal following for more than 108 years and the Bonney Lake paper has become a community fixture since it was launched in late 2003.
But that doesn’t mean changes aren’t in the works. For a paper to remain stagnant is to die; for journalists to remain stagnant is to become unemployed.
The big change is with our online presence.
Weekly newspapers like this one have historically had built-in limitations, namely that we can get you the news just once every seven days. Obviously, that’s no longer true. With apologies to all readers who are without computers or online access, our philosophy has dramatically shifted: we’re now aiming to be a daily news organization that offers a print version once a week. The goal is provide you with new information every day at www.courierherald.com.
An analysis of our online readership shows thousands of people visit our Web site each month, but they check in just 1.5 times during that 30-day period; that’s not satisfactory, given that we publish a minimum of four issues every 30 days. Sometimes it’s five.
Our goal is to give you a reason to come back often.
Astute readers have noticed a “teaser” at the bottom of all our odd-numbered pages, noting that new content is available daily on the Web site. This week’s paper brought another change: the “Question of the Week” that has been featured on Page 1 has been moved to Page 4, allowing us to promote another recent development, the slide show.
When Courier-Herald staffers attend an event, we generally take dozens of photos, realizing that most often just one will make it into print. If space allows, we can sometimes bundle as many as three or four together; but that’s a luxury.
On the Web site, however, we can offer a slide show with perhaps two dozen photographs. They may not all be award-winners, but we think readers will like seeing them. As always, all photos will be available for sale.
Coming soon will be short video productions of community events. Technology makes this possible for amateurs like us to get some decent images and we’ll be posting them as quickly as possible.
This is the same kind of thing being done in big-city newsrooms. The important difference is that we’re only covering events that hit close to home. If it isn’t relevent to our readership area, you won’t find it in the pages of The Courier-Herald – or on our daily-updated Web site.