Fans of newspapers – and there are still plenty of dedicated readers out there, despite warnings to the contrary – realize this is an industry in the midst of great upheaval.
It’s an issue we don’t wish to belabor in this corner of this publication, but the changes will be noticed by every single reader who picks up an actual, honest-to-goodness PRINTED version of their favorite publication.
The model for success has changed dramatically in recent years and these changes are altering the way things are done from the largest metropolitan daily to the tiniest community weekly. Aside from carrying the news, large papers find themselves making the news these days, each and every time they announce another substantial staff reduction. From Olympia to Tacoma and Seattle to Spokane, newsrooms have shrunk, in some cases dramatically. Reporters and editors have been jettisoned as accounting departments document shrinking profits. Sections are combined in an effort to slice printing costs.
The ultimate step was taken this week in Seattle, when it was announced that the Seattle P-I is on life support. The paper is for sale, it’s assumed no buyers will step forward and Seattle will join other big cities as a one-daily town.
Newspapers are changing in their approach and one step the industry is hanging its hat on is making readers more involved. The term “reader-generated content” was used in this space last week and we’re hoping to expand on that notion.
Here at The Courier-Herald, we’ve jumped on board with a couple of initiatives that give readers center stage.
The first issue of each month brings “Community Clicks,” a full page that places a priority on photographs submitted by readers. The response has been good so far – better for our Bonney Lake/Sumner edition than in Enumclaw – but we’d always like to see more.
The rules are pretty simple. If you have a photo that strikes a chord, send it in. It could be a scenic shot of Lake Tapps or Mount Rainier, something from a community event or Aunt Millie’s 100th birthday. There are no guarantees everything will find its way onto newsprint, but we’ll use the best of what we receive.
Prints are OK and e-mailed images are even better. Just e-mail your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop them by the Enumclaw office.
A more daunting undertaking is now appearing each and every week. A special page – which rotates between Family Matters, Healthy Living, Go Green and Art – contains nothing but community-generated articles. We’ve scoured the community to find authors and, as we move along, we expect more will be stepping forward.
Anyone interested in writing for one of the special pages can give us a ring at 360-802-8209.
As newspapers take steps to remain relevant in readers’ lives, one thing is crystal clear. Just as real estate folks preach “location, location, location,” we in the world of print journalism know the key to success is “local, local, local.”
No one zeroes in on the local community like this state’s weekly newspapers. And now, more than ever, we’re looking to make readers part of the product. We hope you like what you see.