Tuesday Apr 24 2012
Another View: Better newspapers coming your way
By: Jenifer Gee, editor
It wasn’t an easy decision to cut a day of the week from a community newspaper. After hearing the reasons for and what it could save, I acknowledged that this is the right move for our newspaper. In talking to a colleague, we both realized the reality of the Auburn Journal cutting from six days to five, but agreed it almost feels sacrilegious in the world of journalism to admit just as much. I’ve loved the world of writing since middle school when I took a small extra credit writing assignment and created a magazine. In high school, I was editor of the school newspaper while also working at my hometown newspaper, the Severna Park Voice, that published once a month. In college, one of the best summers I had was spent interning at the Maryland Gazette, a twice-weekly publication where, because they were small staffed, I was treated like a full-time reporter. When it came time to graduate, my parents were a little wary about me taking a job where, with a college degree, I wouldn’t make more than a manager at a fast-food restaurant. But I found myself searching constantly for journalism jobs, and reasoned I just need to get reporting out of my system. It’s been six years since then and I’ve yet to get my fill. And on a side note, my parents are proud of my decision. So every time I hear of a decline or cut in the media world – especially newspapers - I want so badly to fight against it. In the case of the Journal, the reasons for our move to cut Monday makes fiscal sense because we can save local jobs, and it makes sense for the resources we currently have. In addition to that, our local economy is doing its best to recover and, at this time, doesn’t support a Monday edition, understandably so. When I started at the Journal four years ago, there were enough reporters that we rotated weekend shifts. The Sunday and Monday papers had guaranteed fresh, local reporting. But things quickly changed. Now with two full-time reporters, it doesn’t make sense to lose one to a weekend day when they can be more productive with return phone calls, attending meetings, events and more during the Monday through Friday work week. Therefore, our Sunday publication has remained strong with our best stories but our Monday paper soon became our weakest editorial package where it felt routinely like we were finding just enough to fill it. I don’t like to do my work that way. I now have the staff member who worked on Sunday to paginate Monday’s newspaper in the newsroom an extra day during the work week. That translates to an additional reporter writing local stories, which will help improve our news coverage. The rest of the newsroom is still here, Monday through Friday, and our focus on local news will not change. In addition to a renewed commitment to cover hard news and features, we’re adding new content into our line up. After an online survey, listening to readers over time, and hearing what attendees had to say at our Meet the Journal coffee, we settled on a few new content pages to launch. Starting in May, on Wednesdays, we’ll feature Auburn history. This will include historic photos graciously provided by Placer County Museums, an occasional then and now column from longtime Auburn resident Al Albertazzi, and a look back at “this day in history.” On Fridays, we’ll rotate among features relating to pets, what to do in the outdoors and day trips you can take from Auburn. Online we’ve launched a new video series called Auburn Journal Newsmakers. Our City/Multimedia Editor Andrew DiLuccia takes a few minutes each week with someone in the news or related to a story in the news and asks five questions. We publish part of the interview in print Sunday and the rest is online. Whispers of a Web redesign are becoming more of a reality and we’ll soon offer a better way for you to find our great content online, hopefully by the end of the summer. On Mondays, log on to auburnjournal.com. We still have a plan to upload fresh content that day as any other. Our Noon Hour Update, which is posted Monday through Friday, will continue. We’ll update you on anything you might have missed in the news cycle. One of my favorite things to hear or overhear is someone telling someone else “I saw you in the paper.” I still have people call to ask for copies of the newspaper when their family member is printed in it. I’ve had a letter writer come into the office every time their letter is printed because they want a hard copy. I do not have a crystal ball to look into the future and see what will happen in this industry. What I do have is a passion and interest in it, and love that on a small scale we can directly help inform Auburn Journal readers about news they won’t find anywhere else. On top of that the Auburn Journal, its employees and owners are definitely in it for the long haul. This September we turn 140 years old and we plan on celebrating many birthdays to come. We value the support we’ve received from the community and hope to show that appreciation to you everyday through our commentary, photos, letters to the editor, features, cartoons, local sports articles and news stories. I appreciate the dedication of our readers and encourage them to offer us feedback often. Thank you.