Friday Apr 24 2009
News bureau will help us expand our coverage
By: Deric Rothe
Inside the Fishbowl
Here at the Auburn Journal, we are changing the way we produce the news. These are tough economic times for newspapers and many other businesses. Yet, this is also a time of vast opportunity. While initially concerned, I am now genuinely excited about our newspaper’s future. In spite of considerable belt-tightening, Publisher Tony Hazarian and I have remained emphatic that we will continue to improve our news products. Significantly reducing costs while improving the Auburn Journal, nine community newspapers, magazines and Web sites that make up our Gold Country Media cluster is admittedly a tough trick to pull off. On the editorial team, we now have fewer reporters, photographers, editors and page designers at our individual newspapers. But when you put our entire editorial team together, it is still a considerable workforce. And by working more efficiently and much closer together, we can and will improve in print and online. This month we implemented a plan we call centralized pagination. That means all of our community newspapers — the Journal, Colfax Record, Roseville and Granite Bay Press Tribunes, Placer Herald, Loomis News, Folsom and El Dorado Hills Telegraphs and the Granite Bay View and Lincoln Living magazines — are paginated in the Journal newsroom. It’s a busier place than ever at 1030 High St. On Wednesdays alone we produce four completely different newspapers — Colfax, Rocklin, Lincoln and Auburn. It’s been a pretty crazy adjustment, but after just a couple of weeks, we are fine-tuning the process and improving each newspaper along the way. We used to operate like completely separate staffs. Now, more and more, we are operating as one big team. How do you, as a Journal reader, benefit? There are definitely some upsides. We now have more reporters, photographers and editors available to cover regional stories. Culling from anywhere in our cluster, we now have a more diversified set of writers and photographers to produce our news and features. When you see “Gold Country News Service” in a byline, that means the story came from a reporter in our regional news bureau. They could be employed by any of our newspapers, but they also work for parent company Gold Country Media. Conversely, veteran Journal staff writers like Gus Thomson, Jenifer Gee, Gloria Young and Loryll Nicolaisen, will file stories that regularly appear in our sister publications. Our new clusterwide pagination team, led by Journal News Editor Michelle Miller-Carl, designs and builds hundreds of news pages every week. Working with a prominent national newspaper design consulting team, we are making huge steps to improve quality quickly. Our commitment to breaking news online and in print is stronger than ever. We are redesigning all of our newspapers in early May. We are changing our typography and presentation to better serve our readers. It’s an exciting time. We have established a team that I believe is our best ever. At Folsom, Don Chaddock, the former Auburn Sentinel editor, is now leading the Telegraph newspapers. In Lincoln, Carol Feineman, a former Colfax editor, is now running the larger News Messenger newspaper. Susan Belknap, the former Loomis News leader, is now managing editor for our South Placer newspapers that include the Press Tribunes and Rocklin’s Placer Herald, to name a few. Several people have remarked that they enjoy seeing reporter Penne Usher’s byline back in the Journal. She is writing as a correspondent for us again and we are glad to have her. We had an all-time-high record number of readers in March. And our profitability appears to be stabilizing. We are changing the way we do business. Stay with us and let us know what you think. Our goal is to change with the times and change for the better. Deric Rothe is editor and general manager of the Auburn Journal and senior editor of Gold Country Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.