When we put out the call for nominations for our annual “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” feature, we were essentially asking for newspapers to send us their biggest and brightest ideas. Ideas that increased revenue. Ideas that helped gain subscriptions. Ideas that helped bring communities together. Ideas that got people talking.
And newspapers around the world delivered.
We loved reading about all the ideas people were sending in from different newspapers (more than 70 to be exact). A trend we noticed this year was the amount of papers submitting ideas centered on community engagement—whether it was talking and listening to your readers at city forums or hosting events focused on issues like race, economics, and religion. The best part is that your readers were showing up, meaning they do want to meet you and they do want to engage with you.
Let’s face it; working for a newspaper is tough right now, but that didn’t stop any of you from sending in your ideas. Once again, we asked, “How can newspapers continue to grow and prosper?” Hear what some of the papers from this year’s list of “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” and honorable mentions had to say.
“Newspapers need to continue diversifying how they deliver their product, letting this question guide their initiatives: Can we make money doing this? For years, newspapers let their expert reporters and columnists appear on TV and radio, calling it brand promotion, but not reaping any financial benefit. Instead they created free programming for other media. Papers need to recognize that their independent voice has substantial value beyond print and their own website by creating programming that takes advantage of that.”—Jamie Stockwell, San Antonio Express-News
“Newspapers must put themselves into the center of the most important issues that confront their communities, and not just investigate problems—of course they must do that—but engage directly in solving them. Yes, there is challenge in taking an activist role, that a misstep could compromise the independence necessary for good journalism.”—Douglas Ray, Gainesville Sun
“I believe that the newspaper industry is one of the most resilient business models in America, as proven by its ability to weather the advent of new content technologies throughout the years. The transformation from a print only, to online, to advertising agency, and now to a diversified revenue generator shows me that the business will always survive. The format and revenues are becoming agnostic, showing the creativity of the businesses to find new paths to keep growing.”—Todd Peterson, Albany Times Union
“Newspapers must get into the business of helping people — citizens — become better news consumers, able to distinguish credible, fact-based reporting from all of its lesser cousins. We will benefit if consumers have the critical thinking skills needed to distinguish between news and noise…A news literate community provides a built-in advantage for local newspapers that face challenges from competitors whose standards of verification and fair play are nowhere near as stringent as ours.”—Mark Baldwin, Rockford Register Star
“Newspapers must be seen as a digest of information critical to daily life, and they must be trusted. Finding the path requires us to respect our audience. Stop thinking of them as uninformed, apathetic, unable to discern. We need to incorporate them in all of our work, from story conceptualization and reporting to showing diverse interests working together to find solutions. And we need to tell them more often how we do our work so that they see how hard we try in our daily routine to deliver that information. Redevelop trust, empower, engage, show people working together to solve tough problems, be transparent. Those things assure us a future.”—Doug Oplinger, Akron Beacon Journal