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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A challenge to the Star

Down in little old Springfield, Missouri, the local paper, the Springfield News-Leader, has come out swinging in the newspaper wars with a just-announced plan for their paper:

I was pleasantly surprised.  Here's some of the details:

Today, we are kicking off a campaign to tell you, our readers, about some exciting changes coming to the News-Leader every day starting Feb. 16.

As we continue our transformation as a leading news and information company, we are giving you MORE — at least 68 pages more each week in our print edition.

I hear from a lot of readers and I always appreciate their feedback. One thing I consistently hear is that you like our product, but want more information, more content, more local and national news, more sports. And starting Feb. 16, we will consistently give you at least 68 more pages of content each week.

We will use the next two weeks to promote the changes we are planning. But I wanted to give you some insights today — so as our valued readers, you have the inside story.

You have told us local news is more important, so we are giving you more local news — dedicating the entire first section to local news. We are giving you an expanded local business section every Sunday. We have invited a panel of local business experts to give us insights into the local business scene.

We are giving you more watchdog reporting. Amos Bridges, one of our leading experts on investigative reporting and open records, will be moving into this newly created position. Look for his reports each Sunday and Tuesday.

We are dedicating Page 2A to digital content and social media, what’s trending and what happened that is causing a buzz.

And we are giving you more news about your community, your schools and your neighbors — with content from the city, foundations, the library and several others in the community page.

We are also giving you more sports from your favorite Missouri college and pro teams.

It goes on from there.

The thing is, newspapers have to do something.  The thing nearly any media outlet--be they newspaper, online site, whatever--has virtually GOT to be a multi-media site. They've got to post articles, local, national and international but what really makes a former newspaper to stand out are the local stories, local writing. If a newspaper hasn't got that, what have they got? How would they be different than others?  

The fact is, they wouldn't. They wouldn't be any different.

So they have to do local stories, local color. And that travels well to online and video, or it can, if covered and covered well.

So anyway, this looks like quite a commitment and ambitious attempt on the part of this smaller paper. Who knows where it will go.  The thing is, I wouldn't think expanding the paper would be the way to go but being more ambitious, now that I think is what is needed. Instead of shrinking and shrinking and shrinking the paper and staff, which can lead nowhere but to lower interest from possible readers, somehow giving more stories, especially more local stories, is the way to go.

And that patently hasn't been where the Star has been headed the last several years.

Heck, for the last 4 decades.

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