Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Local news’

The big unlearning

In journalism on 20 Apr 2017 at 11:39 am

I don’t know about you, but I have put decades of my life into newspaper reporting and editing, so I would like to feel that I have gotten better at it. That things like writing inverted pyramids, editing for AP style and proofing pages have become second nature and are meaningful.

It hurts a little to think that very expertise might be holding me back. However, I have a niggling feeling that may be the case.

Kristen Hare at Poynter has put together a fascinating series of interviews with local journalists about changes in the profession. This week, she asked a radio producer and a reporter for the interesting local journalism start-up Billy Penn an intriguing question: What sorts of things did they have to unlearn to be viable journalists in the second decade of the 21st century?

She framed it like this: “I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve seen newsrooms let go of, and it seems like they fall into three basic categories. One is stagnant culture. Two is a sense of confusion about our audiences and what they want, and three is just practices — how we do our jobs now.”

The journalists mentioned several things they had to stop doing. Perhaps the one that resonated the most for me had to do with deadlines and ownership of stories. Anna Orso of Billy Penn said that when she was a newspaper reporter, she filed a story by a particular time and was usually done with it. Someone else edited it and moved it into queues for print and web. Now, she loads it into WordPress, embeds video and engages readers of the work on Facebook and Twitter.

They also talk about giving up on the old inverted pyramid and “objective” writing. These are things that I want to hold on to, and I’ll tell you why. The point of the inverted pyramid is so busy people can give up on stories quickly and still get the gist. Why would we let that go? Are people any less busy or less distracted now than they were, say, 30 years ago? I don’t think so. … Read the rest of this entry »


Putting local up front

In journalism on 6 Apr 2012 at 9:11 am

Last week, Denver Post Editor Greg Moore announced to readers that his staff was moving local news to the fore in the city’s sole surviving daily newspaper. To which I thought: What took you so long?

The Denver Post was my hometown newspaper for many years. It always had a sort-of institutional “big newspaper” feel that was offset by its rival Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky was more likely to dedicate its first few pages to the news of the day in Denver. When the Rocky called it quits in 2009, it might have seemed as if the Post’s strategy – which included more prominent national and international news – had carried the day.

Not really.

A newspaper’s bread and butter has always been the news that is at its own doorstep. The vast majority of us can’t cover the war in Afghanistan or even the Super Bowl very well. The best we can hope to do on a big story like that is to parachute in and bring home a slice of the bigger story. But we can record the much smaller events that are many times just as important to the loyal readers who plunk down three quarters for our goods. It’s a little surprising to me that the Post is just now formally acknowledging this obvious fact by physically moving local news to the front of the paper. … Read the rest of this entry »