Editorial: Give Yourself a High-Five
Posted: 3/20/2014 | By: Ed Zintel
Amazing is one word I’d use to describe it. Inspiring would be
That’s just two of the reactions I had when looking
over the nominations we received this year for E&P’s 10 Newspapers
That Do It Right. Just the amount of thought put into the nominations by those
of you who did was enough to make me proud to be a part of this
From the tiny weeklies such as the McKenzie
River Reflections in Colorado (circ. 800), to the big metropolitan dailies,
such as the New York Times (circ. 1.5 million), every nominee was
impressive in its own way.
Of course, we’re always asked how
we select which newspapers make the final list. Actually, a lot goes into the
selection process. We look at the nominations for such things as circulation
growth, increased advertising sales, revenue achieved through new channels, and
digital products that do more than repurpose old content on new platforms. But,
much more than that, we look for ideas and strategies that are unique and
creative whether they bring in revenue or not and regardless of newspaper
And so many of the nominations we receive convey that
resourcefulness with which newspapers have always used to stay relevant and
causative to the readers they serve.
Take, for example, the
El Paso Times. The paper played a critical watchdog role over the past
two years in identifying and fixing deep problems in the El Paso Independent
School District. The Times identified one of the nation’s worst
school-cheating scandals in a year-long investigation. And when the school
district and state education agency became paralyzed in trying to deal with the
fallout, the Times used its editorial pages to map out a reform plan
that was largely adopted by state and local leadership. You can see two years of
coverage of this issue at www.elpasotimes.com/episd.
newspapers demonstrate they value the historical significance of their
communities. The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. has
published continuously for 183 years, making it the state’s oldest newspaper. In
2013, it created a project known as Flashback Springfield. Included was a
collaboration with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Papers of
Abraham Lincoln project in which the paper printed never-before-published
letters to Lincoln.
Last year seemed to be the Year of the
Event for many newspapers looking to add revenue and market themselves in new
and bigger ways. Whether it’s a bridal expo, a book fair, a kids expo, a
Christmas crafts show or jazz music weekend, an event can generate revenue, and,
just as importantly, events create experiences that leave lasting impressions in
the minds of readers, advertisers and the community.
I’m always so impressed with is the never-give-up attitude among newspaper
folks. For example, Keith Foutz, who, together with his brother, Fred, bought
The Early Bird weekly in Greenville, Ohio in 2012, told me about the
patience it took before he was finally able to land the purchase.
“I pestered the owner for about a dozen years, writing her Christmas
cards every year with a note that said, ‘Let me know if you ever consider
selling the paper,’ ” Foutz said. “Finally, I received a reply from her after my
2011 Christmas card, saying, ‘Maybe it’s time we talked.’ ”
And the rest, as they say, is history. This year, The Early
Bird was named one of the 10 Newspapers That Do It Right.