• USPS threatens consolidation of Campton, Lexington, Paducah facilities
• …and then ‘rationalizes’ the January 2015 plan
• Board renames ‘New Media Division’ to put emphasis on ‘Digital;’ Peter Baniak to serve as chair
• Changes they are a’coming to KPA Contests, but just some tweaking really
• CJ, Herald-Leader win AP Sports awards
• Herald-Leader creates photo archive of 1.8 million negatives, transparencies
• At www.kypress.com, sign up for ‘Just the Basics’ seminar, the Battle At Crooked Creek and the Fall Chapter Series
We’re taking a holiday!
And hope many of you get to celebrate as well the 238th birthday of the U.S.A. Part of the reason we celebrate is the First Amendment. Something we often take for granted, other times we try to hide behind.
KPA Central Office will be closed Friday, July 4, and will reopen Monday, July 7, at 8 a.m./Eastern.
Third time’s charm for KPA’s ‘Digital Media Division’
It started in November, 1999, and became part of the KPA Bylaws, a division called “New Media.” The idea was to help newspapers with technology, especially with websites and to understand all of the opportunities those brought. The division began with a meeting of about a dozen newspaper folks. In the first six months, the division went through five chairpersons, all deciding to either leave the newspaper business or taking a job in another state.
The division was quiet for the next eight years with little interest in trying to resurrect it. Until 2007, when KPA President Kriss Johnson thought it was time to get it moving again. This time, only a few expressed interest in helping out. It continued spinning its wheels, getting very little traction because not many had the time to help.
Then came John Mura’s time as 2012 President of KPA. John, as multimedia director of the Louisville Courier-Journal, knew what opportunities were there for newspapers and understood not all had the resources necessary to take advantage of not just websites, but Twitter and Facebook, smartphone and tablet apps and, yes, video. He formed the KPA Digital Committee and got several Board members and multimedia people from newspapers involved. In a short time, the committee set its goals and laid out a plan to reach those. A Digital Needs Assessment Survey gave the committee an idea of where newspapers were in technology areas. And it showed many newspapers needed help.
The Digital Committee developed a Pilot Project to help four smaller newspapers understand all the opportunities before them and how to utilize Facebook and Twitter and Apps in addition to their own websites.
When 2014 President Scott Schurz Jr. took over, he wanted to make sure the efforts of the committee over the past two years remained important to KPA’s work. He gathered the committee, along with some new folks interested in serving, for a meeting on June 26. The agenda was simple but the results showed the committee being committed to continuing the work.
The agenda included:
1) recap what we have accomplished to date;
2) discuss if there is anything that we need to accomplish from original plan;
3) identify what we should focus on in 2014, including outcomes of a plan, and start to formulate the initiatives that could be the heart of a plan.
For a little over two hours the committee covered those items and more. But toward the end, it decided more focus was needed for newspapers and the committee needed to remain committed now and into the future.
The idea of a division — “much like what we have for News Editorial, Advertising, Circulation and the Associates” — was needed. But the foundation was already there thanks to the 1999 Bylaws amendment setting up the ‘new media division.’
The division name was no longer applicable as such and the committee asked to have it renamed the “KPA Digital Media Division.” And to make sure the history of the division isn’t repeated in 2014 and beyond, the committee became the Digital Media Division, retaining the current members of the group. And it elected Lexington Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak as chairman.
That recommendation went to the full Board later on June 26 and got unanimous support to rename the division and to have Peter serve as chair.
The only part remaining now is for the voting members of KPA to approve the Bylaws change. And the only change is to rename ‘new media division’ to ‘digital media division.’ Newspapers are about to vote on that recommended amendment and the new name takes effect as soon as a majority of the members vote in favor. The process will be done electronically so that KPA doesn’t have to wait until the January business meeting for the change to take place.
Newspapers eligible to vote on the amendment are those that are full members, with a Periodicals Class Mailing permit. An email will be sent to each of those with an electronic form to indicate approval or disapproval of the recommendation from the board. That email will be sent between now and July 10.
Courier-Journal, Herald-Leader take AP Sports awards
The Courier-Journal was named “Top Ten” in Daily Sections; Sunday Sections; and Special Sections.The Louisville Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader captured a total of five awards during the Associated Press Sports Editors contest. The Courier-Journal also had one winner in the Multimedia division. Winners were announced last weekend during APSE’s Summer Conference in Washington, D.C. Both competed in the 75,001 to 175,000 circulation categories.
The Herald-Leader was named in the “Top Ten” in Sunday Sections and Special Sections.
In the writing categories under Multimedia, 500,000 to 2 million Unique Visitors, the Courier-Journal’s Jennie Rees was honored for her story on Ashley Broussard — “Becoming a jockey — trailing Ashley Broussard as she worked to earn a provisional license, documenting her first victory.”
For more information, go to http://apsportseditors.org/contest-winners-2/
Herald-Leader archiving 1.8 million transparencies, negatives online
They were almost thrown in the garbage, some 1.8 million negatives and transparencies from the Lexington Herald, Lexington Leader and now the Lexington Herald-Leader. Reportedly when McClatchy took over from Knight-Ridder, the instructions were to toss the negatives; they were of no use.
Long-time Herald-Leader photographer John C. Wyatt felt otherwise and so he not only saved the negatives, he began cataloging each one. As editor Peter Baniak explained in a Sunday, June 29, article announcing the Kentucky Photo Archive:
“The cornerstone of this effort is the John C. Wyatt Herald-Leader Collection, an archive of 1.8 million negatives and transparencies dating from the late 1930s through the 1990s housed at the University of Kentucky Special Collections since 2005.”
Each day, under its Latest Blogs online, kentucky.com is linking visitors to a series of the photographs through the archive.
We’re waiting to hear that you will be
publishing the KPA Fall Chapter Series!!
Go to http://www.kypress.com/nie to sign up
The fall serial story is the annual Kentucky literacy project. Each year more than 60 Kentucky newspapers publish the story simultaneously, with chapter one beginning the week of September 14. The only way to read the story is one chapter a week in Kentucky newspapers. It is popular with readers and students.
The story theme is usually something about Kentucky. Last year was agriculture. This year “We’re All Ears” is about the arts and crafts and heritage of Kentucky. There are 10 chapters and graphics.
When you sign up you are agreeing to publish one chapter and graphic in your newspaper each week. You can make it as large or small as you want. If you want you can get a local advertiser to sponsor the project and pay for the space used and help pay for newspapers that may go into schools. Most newspapers donate the space. In early September, KPA will have the story chapters and graphics online for you to access with a password.
You should request scrapbooks when you sign up to give to readers and schools so they can cut out the chapters and put them in the scrapbook and make their own book. Some newspapers put the scrapbooks full-run in their newspapers when they publish the first chapter.
All materials will be available at http://www.kypress.com/nie and will include a podcast of Woody, the story main character, reading each chapter.
Newspaper in Education will be holding a workshop at the Lexington Herald-Leader on July 10 to kick off the story and encourage teachers to use newspapers and the story in their classroom.
Please feel free to call (859-231-3353) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Kriss Johnson if you have questions.
Hensley named Advocate Communications publisher
Larry Hensley has been promoted to president and publisher for Advocate Communications.
Advocate Communications, based in Danville, includes The Winchester Sun, the Advocate-Messenger in Danville, the Jessamine Journal and the Interior Journal, Stanford. The Kentucky publishing company is a subsidiary of Mishawaka, Indiana-based Schurz Communications.
The appointment is effective July 7.
Hensley started his career at Schurz in 2007 as chief financial officer of the Petoskey Media Group in Petoskey, Michigan. In 2008, Hensley was promoted with additional duties in Petoskey as publisher of the Petoskey Media Group’s phone directories.
“Larry has been a key player in the expansion of the phone directories for Petoskey and has been in the Schurz publisher development track for several years,” said Kerry Oslund, senior vice president of publishing and emerging media for Schurz.
Prior to joining Schurz, Hensley worked 12 years as the controller/general manager for Huntington Newspapers Inc. in Huntington, Indiana.
Hensley replaces Scott Schurz Jr., who has been promoted to a new role in the Schurz corporate office in Mishawaka, Indiana, as vice president of corporate development. His new assignment begins July 1.
Closing 80+ Mail Processing Plants and Degrading Periodicals/First-Class Mail Service: a Recipe for More Lost Business for USPS
From Tonda Rush, NNA CEO
National Newspaper Association President Robert M. Williams Jr., publisher of the Blackshear (GA) Times, strongly objected this week to the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement that it would close or consolidate more than 80 mail processing facilities after January and lower service standards for Periodicals and First-Class Mail.
In a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Williams said: “We deeply regret our long-time partnership with the Postal Service is about to be further stressed by another degradation of service. NNA does not understand how rising prices, slower service and further concentration of services into urban areas helps our nationwide mail service to survive Internet competition or any other threat.”
The Postal Service announced on June 30 that it is now targeting a broad list of mail processing plants for its second round of “network consolidation.” Though USPS is showing operating profits this year after several years of red ink, Donahoe cited a $40 billion debt on the USPS balance sheet as a reason. Most of the Postal Service debt is to the U.S. Treasury, which it owes for the accelerated prepayment of postal retiree health costs imposed by Congress in a 2006 postal law.
Many mailing organizations, labor unions and concerned postal users have lobbied Congress vigorously for the past eight years to relax the punitive requirements, which have been set up for no other federal agency. Williams emphasized again in his letter to Donahoe that NNA has set its Congressional Action Team in motion repeatedly to support legislative efforts to relieve financial pressure on USPS.
“We want postal reform legislation this year,” Williams said. “We have looked for several years now for legislation that balances the needs of USPS, of the postal workforce and of mailers, particularly those in rural areas hard hit by the previous round of postal plant closings. We recognize that the Postal Service is a powerful federal agency that influences our advertising marketplaces and therefore must be fairly regulated. But we object to Congress’s having tried repeatedly to use the postage-selling abilities of USPS as a cash cow. We are very hopeful that we will see legislation this year that strikes the right balance and that we can vigorously support it before these plant closings kick in. NNA firmly believes that mail service to rural and small-town America is critical to local economies. We will not stand by quietly when it is put at risk.”
USPS ‘rationalizes’ consolidating 82 facilities including Lexington, Campton, Paducah
Dear Valued Customer,
The United States Postal Service is planning to resume the rationalization of our network of mail processing facilities which began in 2012. To provide adequate time for planning and preparation, the Postal Service is providing this six-month advance notice of consolidations, for up to 82 facilities, which will begin early January 2015 and be completed by the fall mailing season.
The Postal Service will provide detailed information about its network rationalization planning in the coming weeks. As with prior network rationalization efforts, the Postal Service will work closely with customers to mitigate potential issues associated with transportation and logistical requirements.
In 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service consolidated 141 mail processing facilities. This rationalization was highly successful, resulted in negligible service impact, generating annualized cost savings of $865 million and required no employee layoffs. The Postal Service expects the completion of this phase of network rationalization will generate an additional $750 million in annual savings.
Why are we taking this step now?
Over the past three years, the Postal Service recorded financial losses of $26 billion. The Postal Service receives no tax-payer funds to pay for operating costs and derives all of its revenues from the sale of our products and services, and continues to face significant financial challenges associated with the decline of First-Class Mail volume and revenue, wage and benefit inflation, increasing operating costs, as well as legislative mandates and significant debt pressures. Moreover, the uncertainty regarding legislative reform and review of postal rates in the courts continues to delay needed capital investments to acquire package sorting equipment and replace an aging mail delivery fleet.
We believe strongly that this phase of network rationalization will establish the low-cost, technology-centric delivery platform necessary to serve the mailing and shipping industry for decades to come. We look forward to discussing our specific plans for our network in the coming weeks.
The list of facilities to be consolidated after January of 2015 is available at http://usps.com/ourfuturenetwork .
Paring the action down to the local level
Consolidation done previously has affected delivery of your newspapers to the KPA Central Office and it will deteriorate more if USPS follows through with the threat. A few years ago, some mail in the mid-Western Kentucky area started going through Evansville. That probably resulted in the worst delivery of newspapers we’ve seen. It took several complaints and a few contacts by Max Heath before delivery through Evansville could even get to an acceptable standard.
Personally, I give you the tale of two cities — Georgetown and Frankfort. I get the Cats Pause at home in Gtown and we get a copy at the office. Apparently the copy I get at home goes through Lexington; the one we get at the office through Louisville. The Cats Pause asks for Tuesday delivery. And without fail, it’s generally Tuesday when I get it in Gtown. But Frankfort? For most of the past year, it didn’t arrive at the office until Friday!
Enter Max Heath with some urging from Cats Pause GM Darrell Bird and the post office started watching for the Cats Pause at the facility. It improved immediately and though it’s in its monthly cycle now, I can watch for it on Tuesdays of each week during the season. So a slight switch in facilities resulted in an unacceptable delay. And that story isn’t not the exception. It’s more the rule since USPS decided lower service/delivery standards would have to be the norm.
If/when the new consolidations take place, Max Heath can tell you what’s going to happen:
“I can assure you that any newspaper in 403-306 territory served by Lexington SCF, 413-414 ZIPs served by Campton, and 420 territory served by Paducah will experience worse delivery with Lexington/Campton mail split between Louisville and Knoxville plants.”
Some comments from Kentucky publishers about the USPS consolidation plan:
I see the delivery time for papers being delayed dramatically since we use the Campton station. On a brighter note though, I see online subscriptions increasing.
— Bobby Thorpe, Breathitt Advocate
I would ask them: Just how much sense does it make for a letter mailed in Calvert City from my office to city hall, about six small city blocks, to have to be sent instead to Evansville, IN? We have had several instances already of our papers being sent on Wild Goose chases and delivery being delayed. It will just get worse. It is about a two hour drive to Evansville from Calvert City. Drive time will be nearly four hours. No good is going to come of this.
–Loyd Ford, The Lake News, Calvert City
Delivery has slowed down since 1990…it can’t get much worse than a week to go 5 miles across county lines.
— Hank Bond, Greenup Beacon
Consolidation is bad news for newspapers relying on USPS to provide timely delivery to readers. When the London KY machines were moved out and those functions “consolidated” in Knoxville TN, delivery times INCREASED by up to 3 days. Over 500 readers called, Emailed or wrote us to complain, that their newspaper, delivered to the USPS on Wednesday did not reach them until the following Monday! The process cost us hundreds of subscribers, and caused us to launch an E-edition so we could offer an alternative to the USPS entirely. Obviously, losing the printed traditional hard copy newspaper is the last thing the post office, or newspapers for that matter, need now.
I don’t have the figures for Lexington, but I believe they process a lot more periodical mail than London. Many central Kentucky newspapers will be impacted.
— Jay Nolan, Mountain Advocate, Barbourville
Victory over an illegal meeting
Might this serve as a reminder to write your local public agencies and ask/demand/require that the agency notifies your newspaper of any and all special meetings. I pass that along because of a situation Daniel Richardson with the Hickman County Gazette faced recently. The Clinton City Council had a special meeting last week and passed several ordinances. I gave Daniel some suggestions on how to proceed and he filed a request that the mayor admit the city council violated the Open Meetings Law and to rescind any and all actions taken at the meeting. At first, Daniel was told the newspaper didn’t have a letter on file to be notified of any special meetings.
In one sense, that could be possible but the law specifies the public agency shall notify the media no more than once each year that it must have a letter on file. The city did find a letter, dated in 2010, that requested the newspaper be notified. With that, there was an admission that the city violated the Open Meetings Law and that all actions taken at the special meeting would be rescinded.
Here’s the language on Special Meetings and the notification part is in (4). So don’t wait on your city or county or school board to ask you for a letter. Just go ahead and send that to them now and they won’t have an excuse for not notifying you:
KRS 61.823 — Special meetings; emergency meetings
(1) Except as provided in subsection (5) of this section, special meetings shall be held in accordance with the provisions of subsections (2), (3), and (4) of this section.
(2) The presiding officer or a majority of the members of the public agency may call a special meeting.
(3) The public agency shall provide written notice of the special meeting. The notice shall consist of the date, time, and place of the special meeting and the agenda. Discussions and action at the meeting shall be limited to items listed on the agenda in the notice.
(4) (a) As soon as possible, written notice shall be delivered personally, transmitted by facsimile machine, or mailed to every member of the public agency as well as each media organization which has filed a written request, including a mailing address, to receive notice of special meetings. The notice shall be calculated so that it shall be received at least twenty-four (24) hours before the special meeting. The public agency may periodically, but no more often than once in a calendar year, inform media organizations that they will have to submit a new written request or no longer receive written notice of special meetings until a new written request is filed.
Here’s a note from Daniel Richardson concerning the situation:
“I wanted to update you on the developments of the situation I emailed you about last week. I submitted a written request to the city, asking the mayor to admit violating the Kentucky Open Meetings Act and rescind any and all action taken at the meeting. That afternoon, the city administrator said that none of my requests would be granted because they did not have a written request from us on file to be notified of special meetings.
“The next morning, the city clerk found the request from 2010 and the mayor responded and admitted to violating open meeting law and rescinded all action taken by the council at the meeting, though I’m not sure he has the power to do that.
“…I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time across the state, but it represents a huge victory here for transparency.
History buff? Newspaper buff? Take a quiz on newspaper history
Do you like history? Do you like newspapers? If you answered yes to both questions, then NAA has a quiz for you. NAA created a quiz on newspaper history from the invention of the product to World War II. The quiz features questions about key events and figures as well as a bit of trivia. It’s fun! To take the quiz, click http://naa-newspapers.polldaddy.com/s/newspaper-history
Continuing the history theme: 25 years of digital photography in newsrooms: Early adopters look back
By Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute
Twenty five years ago, Cindi Christie walked into a computer-filled hotel ballroom on Martha’s Vineyard. Then, she didn’t know much about digital photography.
“Nobody did,” she told Poynter. “I work for a company that has many daily and weekly editions and is spread out throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Photographers for my edition, the San Ramon Valley Times, had to have a slide ready by 1 p.m. for a courier to deliver to another office for scanning. We had to hit a specific window of time. Factor in processing time for the film and that meant that our color photos were stale by the time the paper came out. My goal was to look for a way to buy photographers some shooting time while still meeting production demands.”
For the complete article, go to http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/255176/25-years-of-digital-photography-in-newsrooms-early-adopters-look-back/
With a recommendation from the News Editorial Division and approval by the KPA Board, there will be some tweaking in the Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers contest. This is the one for the newsroom. Possible changes in the Advertising Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers will be discussed July 10 during a conference call with the ad division members.
Contest materials for both will be online in mid-August with a deadline for entry date of mid-October. Again, the entire process will be done online so best to begin gathering pdfs of your stories, pages and pictures for the news contest and your best advertising for that contest.
The contest period will be for all issues published between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014.
In the news contest, the category (Category 2) previously titled “Best Spot News Coverage,” is being renamed to “Best Breaking News Coverage.” The category description will remain in tact but newspapers will be encouraged to enter any use of Social Media in covering that breaking news. Likewise, Category 14, “Best Spot News Picture,” is being renamed to “Best Breaking News Picture.”
The division and board also approved adding one category, “Best Use of Multimedia,” offering newspapers a chance to show how they’ve used Multimedia (Facebook, Twitter, websites, Apps) in covering any news event.
But to make room for that new category, KPA is deleting “Best Business/Agribusiness Page.” Before recommending which category should be deleted to make room for the new one, we researched the total number of entries in each category for the last three years. “Best Business/Agribusiness Page” had the second lowest number of entries total in the three-year span. However, we will keep “Best Business/Agribusiness Story” in the contest. Only the page design of that topic will be deleted from the contest.
The conference call with the KPA Ad Division on July 10 will show whether any changes are needed in that contest and whatever changes are necessary, I will communicate with you next week in this space. We do have a couple of suggested new categories, focusing as well on digital ads, but will get the specifics on those July 10.
In the meantime, go back to your issues since October 1 and start selecting your stories and your ads to enter. All the contest materials — categories, divisions, entry forms, how to submit your entries online — will be announced in mid-August. We’ll use this space as well as list serves to publishers, editors and ad managers when the contest information is posted on the KPA website.
Susy Parry to join KPA/KPS staff as Statewide Classified/ARK Coordinator
Friday, June 26, was the last work day for Shirre Smith who had been serving as Statewide Classified coordinator since January. But we acted quickly, hiring Susy Parry to be our new Statewide Classified/ARK Network coordinator. Susy will begin work on Monday, July 21.
Susy was with the Lexington Herald-Leader for 25 years, beginning her career in the classified department and also spent a little over a year at the Anderson News. She moved back to Pennsylvania, her home area, but longed to get back to the Bluegrass.
In the interim, contact Teresa Revlett with any questions about statewides, ARK or the BANK — our online banner ad network for newspapers.
Speaking of Teresa, sign up now for the July 18 ‘Just to Basics: Making the Sale’ seminar
We’re coming off a successful ad sales seminar at Western Kentucky University, primarily for newspapers in Western Kentucky and now we’re moving that seminar to the Lexington Herald-Leader. It’s scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m./Eastern on Friday, July 18.
Though it’s designed for sales reps with little or no training in selling newspaper ads, it also serves as a refresher for those with more experience. Everyone’s welcome.
Go to http://www.kypress.com and click on the ‘Just the Basics’ banner at the top.
And remember Battle At Crooked Creek, too
We’re up to 22 Kentucky golfers and the promise of at least four more for the Second Annual Border War golf tournament. This year’s version is the Battle At Crooked Creek and is scheduled for Thursday, September 18 at Crooked Creek Golf Club in London.
All proceeds from the tournament go to the foundations of the two press associations. For Kentucky, that means all of the proceeds go to fund internships for newspapers and the Associates. So if you’re one of the many newspapers or Associates that have received an intern since we started that program in 1993, we don’t want to make you feel guilty but you really should support the foundation. Find one to four staff members who love golf and form your own newspaper team, with four. Or send us one or two or three and we’ll make up a foursome.
Contributions to the tournament are welcomed as well. At the June 26 Board meeting, KPA Past President Willie Sawyers, who’s helping to coordinate this year’s outing, told all the Board even a $150 donation will help ensure more interns in the future.
And all contributions are tax deductible.
So stop reading this right now, go to http://www.kypress.com and click on “Battle At Crooked Creek” at the top to get yourself, some employees or your own newspaper’s team signed up!!
Thank you in advance for that.
NNA’s 2014 newspaper contest winners announced
COLUMBIA, MO—Judging results have been processed and winners of the National Newspaper Association 2014 Better Newspaper Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest have been posted online at nnaweb.org.
The only Kentucky entry to win was an honorable mention for the LaRue County Herald News in Hodgenville. Linda Ireland, editor, received the award in “Best Serious Column, Daily & Non-Daily Division, circulation 3,000 to 5,999. The entry was titled ‘Five years later, my friends help me remember.’
Winners will be recognized at the award reception held Saturday, Oct. 4, during NNA’s 128th Annual Convention & Trade Show at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Oct. 2-5, 2014. Visit nnaweb.org/convention to register online to attend the convention or to purchase reception tickets: nnaweb.org.
NNA Contests and Awards Committee Chair Jeff Farren, president and publisher of Kendall County Record Newspapers Inc. in Yorkville, IL, announced and congratulated the contest winners in a notification e-mail. The “Winners reflect the high quality of publications represented by the association,” Farren said.
There were 1,862 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest and 383 entries in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for a total of 2,245 entries. A total of 530 awards were won by 193 member newspapers in 40 states. California had the most combined BNC/BNAC wins with 76, followed by Texas with 65 and Wyoming with 52.
Lists of winners by division and newspaper are available on the contests web page at nnaweb.org, and attached to this e-mail. Winners will be recognized in a special contest PDF available at nnaweb.org following the award reception this fall. Places won in General Excellence categories will be announced at the award reception.
Judging was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers and included retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspapermen and women.
“We deeply appreciate and value the time and talent volunteered by the judges for these contests,” Farren said.
Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.
Entries are now being accepted for the 2014 LMA Advertising & Promotions Contest. Deadline is Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New this year: Advertising Director or Manager of the Year Award, Best Digital Sales Manager of the Year Award and Best Innovation Award. For more information about the award’s history and how to enter, visit the LMA website.
Holding court with your news sources
By Jim Pumarlo
A newsroom’s lifeblood is its ability to keep a pulse of the community and deliver timely reports. Uncooperative news sources often create detours and roadblocks.
Editors and reporters routinely are challenged in tracking down information from public officials, even when the laws governing open meetings and public data are on your side. What were the real reasons for not renewing a superintendent’s contract? Why is a developer threatening lawsuit against the city council? Why won’t the county board release the proposed sites for storage of hazardous waste?
The challenges can be even greater in the private sector, where individuals and companies are not subject to the same rules as public bodies for releasing information. Yet the news can often be more compelling to share with readers than what transpires at a city council meeting. What was the margin of the vote to strike at the paper mill, the city’s largest employer? What caused the plant explosion, and how many people were hurt? Will current employees be affected by the announced merger of the local hospital and clinic?
Editors can readily add to the list of their everyday frustrations in recording the living histories of their communities. Blood pressure rises for good reason.
But all editors should ask themselves: When’s the last time you sat down with news sources – in a calm and nonconfrontational atmosphere – and had a conversation about why you press so hard for information, why you believe your community is better for sharing this information?
Some opportunities are ready-made. I recall when a new law firm was selected to represent our city. The attorneys conducted an orientation for members of boards and commissions. Topics included public meeting procedures, liability exposure for elected and appointed officers, the open meeting law, and ethics in government. I attended and was pleasantly surprised that our newspaper and the attorneys were aligned on many interpretations of the state’s public access laws. But not in all cases. I shared our observations in a column, letting readers know what that meant in terms of gathering and delivering the news we believed they were entitled to know.
Newspapers also are wise to take the initiative. For example:
- Our policy was to identify high school athletes who were suspended from contests due to violations of high school league or school district policies. Not surprising, the policy had its detractors among coaches, parents and athletes. I attended a quarterly meeting of the coaches to explain and discuss our rationale, and addressed the topic in a column to readers.
- We frequently fielded complaints from law enforcement as to why we were aggressive in our pursuit of “bad” news – for example, the suspension of a firefighter – but came up short in recording their heroics. We connected, and, after a brief discussion, discovered that the opportunities for coverage – for example, firefighters battling a fire – often occurred “after hours” in the middle of the night. We immediately armed the department with 24/7 contact information for our staff.
- The local manufacturers association invited me to present at their monthly meeting. My remarks focused on the importance of businesses sharing bad news as well as good news. The interaction with business leaders made for an excellent column.
In a nutshell, newsrooms ought to lay out a plan for regularly connecting with news sources. The mindset should not be to convince others that your pursuit of news is the right way or the only way. Rather, you should strive for a common understanding of why it’s important to share all the news – the routine and the sensitive.
Journalists are equipped with many tools under the letter of the law to gather information. Reporters should be equally aggressive in advancing their requests based on the spirit of openness. The opportunity to deliver the facts – straight from the source – is one of the strongest arguments editors can present to those otherwise hesitant to share information important to your community.
Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on community newsroom success strategies. He is author of “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town Newspapers.” He can be reached at www.pumarlo.com and welcomes comments and questions at email@example.com.
Political advertising: Expect 8% of $8.3 billion to be spent online
I thought you might find this communication from Gordon Borrell, with Borrell Associates interesting:
We’re releasing our annual outlook on political advertising, and I thought you might want a head’s up on some of the findings. To download the report or executive summary: https://www.borrellassociates.com/industry-papers/papers/political-advertising-outlook-2014-and-beyond-jul-14-detail
Spending by candidates and campaigns is up. No surprise there. But what’s surprising is that online continues to severely lag in this category. Unlike commercial advertising categories like automotive or health care, which tend to earmark one-third to as much as two-thirds of their ad spending for online media, candidates remain loyal to traditional media. Barely 8% of the $8.3 billion spent this year on political advertising will go to online media. We expect that to explode during the next presidential campaign, to nearly $1 billion. But even at that high-water mark it would be less than 10% of all political advertising.
Anyone interested in dissecting the political advertising juggernaut will find this report very useful. There’s a lot of money to be made in local markets, particularly in the August-October time frame.
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback on this report. Feel free to contact me directly, or hit REPLY and give me your thoughts.
Gordon Borrell, Borrell Associates Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-221-6641