Wick Communications

This is holiday enterprise

In journalism on December 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

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There are 20,000 kids in foster care in Arizona. That’s up 95 percent from six years ago. Six hundred more kids are taken from their homes every year in Arizona alone. It’s a very sad epidemic that The News-Herald in Lake Havasu is bringing to light.

The week of Thanksgiving, the newspaper ran a front-page package that also included an editorial calling for more families to consider a true sacrifice of love.

Last week, I used this space to ask that you plan for enterprise over the holiday season. There are a zillion reasons to do so. You likely have more news hole this time of year. Folks have more time away from work to sit down with your newspaper. It’s a natural time to write stories that further community.

But stories like those in The News-Herald don’t just happen. Here’s editor Brandon Bowers describing the genesis of the idea. …

“Thanksgiving Day edition is our largest edition of the year, both in page count and rack sales, so I wanted to make sure we weren’t simply filling pages with typical holiday filler, as you called it,” Brandon wrote in an email to me. “I attend the church so I was aware of the effort to train more foster families here, but I was surprised to find that the need in Havasu (and really, all of Arizona) was so great.

“I talked with my staff over the summer about taking a closer look at foster care during the holiday season, when charitable giving and helping the needy are top of mind for a lot of people. Despite those early conversations, however, it turned out that Chelsea Curtis and David Louis, two of our newest reporters (Chelsea had just a week under her belt at that point) did the bulk of the work. I think they did a marvelous job in the relatively short timeframe that they had.”

Three things jump out about what Brandon says here. He knew that Thanksgiving was a key date on the newsroom calendar for reasons having nothing to do with turkey and football. By virtue of his connections in the community, he identified a key issue close to home. And the newsroom started early.

While many newspapers were mailing it in in advance of Thanksgiving, The News-Herald was building community and readership. If this is the sort of work we can expect from Chelsea and David in the future, I’m looking forward to each edition of The News-Herald.

Clay

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