By: Nu Yang and Rich Kane
Newspapers come in all shapes and sizes, and so do ideas. As the E&P staff went through this year’s nominations, we read about newspapers still pushing hard for print; newspapers unafraid to experiment; and most importantly, newspapers planning for and finding success in various ways.
Despite their shared struggles, these 10 newspapers have one other thing in common: their confidence. They’re shining examples of papers that haven’t given up, but are charging forward. When you look at this story’s headline, I hope the word that stands out is “do.” Those two letters mean these papers are in motion, they’re active, and they’re not taking a backseat.
As you read through this year’s list of 10 Newspapers That Do It Right (and our honorable mentions), get excited; get inspired; and get ready to see the positive changes taking place in our industry.
Circulation: 400,000 Sunday; 300,000 daily
A year ago, the Arizona Republic decided to ramp up their public engagement and events strategy and created a full-time position to fill this need, and so far, the investment seems to be working. Particularly with the Arizona Storytellers Project (ASP). According to Randy Lovely, senior vice president of news at the Republic, the regularly sold-out spoken-word series—similar to the Moth StorySlams, if you know your NPR—have been great at connecting with readers and attracting new ones as well.
“We started collecting information on who was buying tickets,” said Lovely. “We sent out surveys asking what people enjoyed about it, what could we do better, and found out that 50 percent of our ASP attendees were not subscribers. Then we turned that over to our circulation folks and used that as a point of entry to develop new customers.”
Subscriber perks have included exclusive ticket deals for ASP (with free brownies from a local bakery), access to the Republic online archive, and same-day answers to the paper’s crossword puzzle. The paper has boosted the number of Storyteller events this year to 16.
“Another big event we’re using is the First Fridays Art Walk in downtown Phoenix, which always attracts a lot of Gen-Xers and millennials,” Lovely said. “Our photo staff came up with doing a pop-up photo gallery during the event, so we made it more interactive by having one of our professional staff photographers take people’s photos and feature them on our website, as long as they provide us with their email and opt-in to our marketing efforts. It’s a great hook, and for many, it’s their first exposure to our website. The page views for it have been very, very solid.”
“Newspapers should continue to develop out successful strategies and tactics for live events that incorporate the goals of editorial, marketing, advertising, and circulation,” said news content marketing strategist Chad Graham. “Events can be a big lift, but can make a real impact in retaining and attracting audience.”
Other than increased Republic brand awareness, a second big benefit of hosting events and parties is the revenue they bring in. Last year, the Storytellers Project garnered $18,000 after expenses, which may not seem like much, but the paper takes that cash and puts it back into the newsroom by sending reporters out to conferences hosted by the Online News Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors. Those kinds of in-house programs are usually among the first to get cut during budget upheavals.
“We make it clear that it all goes back to the training of our journalists,” said Lovely.
Circulation: 130,532 Sunday; 101,139 daily
In a town with plenty to do—from checking out live bands to binging on breakfast tacos—it’s a constant challenge to get Austin’s daily paper of record noticed, even if the American-Statesman building itself occupies some prime visible real estate on the banks of Lady Bird Lake.
So how is it managing to connect with readers? Well, better than it had been, after a 2014 strategy that doubled and surpassed engagement goals. But to get there, staffers had to first learn how to connect with each other.
“Until last year, there was no system set up for communicating between people in our audience department and content department,” said Flannery Bope, the American-Statesman’s audience engagement manager. “As a result, we were missing promotional chances.”
From this, an audience content producer position was created, whose job is to take news stories, maximize them for audiences through SEO, aggregate “buzzy” items, curate outside content that has engagement potential, and use the paper’s website as if they were a non-journalist civilian.
Bope said that the audience content producer now acts as a go-between for the audience and content departments, and helps the paper answer some key questions every news organization needs to be asking itself in the digital age: Which stories are being read at any given moment? Which stories should be promoted on the site? What headlines are grabbing attention? What issues are trending locally? And most importantly, what does the audience want to see?
Another project involved boosting the audience via an extensive email campaign. It included launching a proactive approach to a rejiggered city council election process, which was shifting from an at-large format to a district format. For many confused voters, it needed clear explaining.
“We worked with our editorial department on content that was specific to each district,” said managing editor John Bridges. “Readers got an email from Debbie Hiott, our editor, explaining the election changes, and that went out at the start of early voting. We had voter’s guides touting stories we had written, and sent emails letting readers know that if they lived in District 1, here are links to stories on each District 1 candidate, brought right to their inbox. Those had very high open rates and high engagement.”
By the end of 2014, digital subscriber engagement was up a whopping 63 percent over 2013 numbers, including a 30 percent increase alone in the last quarter of the year.
“We now have monthly meetings between the two departments, and regular communication between the engagement manager, editors, and reporters,” Bope said. “As the year unfolded, it was interesting to see how internal changes affected our external relationships with subscribers—something as simple as better communication between coworkers has helped increase engagement at a rate we haven’t seen before.”
Circulation: 104,209 Saturday; 101,461 daily (publishes every day but Sunday)
As director of digital for the Hamilton Spectator, Susan Azzopardi is the first to admit she didn’t know much about selling digital when she first started in the position in 2012. But one thing was for sure, she was passionate about it. As the paper’s previous director of advertising, Azzopardi said she had to teach herself about digital when she was asked to make a presentation on how to sell it at the paper. What she didn’t know was that she was actually auditioning for the newly-created position. Since then, Azzopardi has led the charge into digital.
Current director of advertising Kelly Montague said, “(By) transforming our traditional print account executives into multimedia experts, we focused our efforts on turning digital products into ‘core’ products that deserved our sales team’s attention and succeeded in the very notable achievement of 165 percent growth.”
How did Azzopardi do it? “We spent the first few months steering the ship, identifying areas of training, and getting meetings with clients. We picked topics like Internet 101, how does Google work, SEO…and we had sales reps accompany clients in these classes.”
Azzopardi said it was also about her staff’s comfort level. “We did one-on-one training, teaching and coaching, and four-legged sales calls.” With 22 sales reps on staff, Azzopardi’s goal is to get everyone on board with selling digital.
To help motivate them, Azzopardi created the Millionaire Club. If reps wanted to become a member, they had to sell 1 million impressions to one client. In 2014, nine reps made it into the club, and Azzopardi hopes to get that number to 12 this year.
But Azzopardi is aware that she has to allow reps to transition at a pace they’re most comfortable with. “There are enough barriers already there,” she said. “You don’t want them to not yield good results, but look at the nine millionaires. The success of their peers resonants with them.”
Every task can also turn into a lesson. When parent company Metroland asked reps at each of its paper to bring in $4,000 just in digital sales alone, Azzopardi realized not everyone at the Spectator could hit that number. Instead, she revised the goal: Bring in $4,000 together as a team. Even if it was just selling a QR code, “every rep participated 100 percent,” she said.
It’s that kind of attention and passion that has translated into results. “Susan steered our sales team to the unbelievable accomplishment of $1.2 million in digital sales and in doing so, solidified our company as experts in the multimedia realm,” Montague said.
Circulation: 73,000 Sunday; 68,000 daily
Two years ago, the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla. was in a state of transition. The paper had just been purchased by Halifax Media Group after being sold by the New York Times Co. Soon after, the paper welcomed a new publisher, Patrick Dorsey, and a new executive editor, Bill Church. Fast forward to November 2014, when it was announced the paper would once again change hands after Halifax agreed to be acquired by New Media Investment Group Inc. and subsidiary GateHouse Media.
With so many things up in the air, Church acknowledged the past few years have been filled with anxiety.
“The Herald-Tribune staff felt the unease. So did the Sarasota community,” he said. “They long had a deep attachment to their community newspaper with its strong watchdog reputation, robust business section and extensive arts coverage.”
But Church described the transformation as an example of how “legacy media organizations can change with the times while still embracing readers’ long-held expectations of the newspaper.” And although there were plenty of new changes to consider, Church said the DNA of the newsroom remained intact.
Starting in 2013, the newsroom rolled out projects, showcasing diverse stories found in the community. Equipped with digital tools and techniques, Church said they began operating like a start-up. Projects like “Breaking the Banks” (heraldtribune.com/breakingthebanks) focused on an investigation that showed how greed factored prominently into the collapse of nearly 70 community banks in Florida; “Home to Havana (havana.heraldtribune.com) told the story of a Sarasota ballet family returning to their homeland to watch their son perform in a prestigious international competition in Cuba; and “Trans Sarasota” (transsarasota.heraldtribune.com), a special report profiling Southwest Floridians who have become a part of a growing public-policy discussion on transgender issues.
“We’re experimenting with projects, teams, structure,” Church said, explaining that he and his staff follow a “decide, design, deploy” planning model that draws heavily on agile technology processes used by start-ups.
“Decide. What are the challenges? Timeline? Who needs to be involved? Design. We break into informal teams to determine every aspect of the project. We assign a project editor and manager. Deploy. We explore partnerships and we build awareness of the project before its publishing date.”
As a result, Church said Web traffic continues to move in the right direction, mobile engagement is on the rise, and circulation numbers are steady.
“Our mantra is think big, act big,” he said. “Our readers have a high expectation of the paper. They get the New York Times and Wall Street Journal delivered to their doors and tablets, so we have to provide unique, compelling stories that they’re not going to get anywhere else.”
Circulation: 153,620 weekly (CAC audited)
For 45 years, Spanish-language newspaper La Raza has strived to become the leading source of news and community coverage for Hispanics in the Chicago area. Their strengths, according to general manager Jimena Catarivas Corbett, can be found within their editorial content and their circulation strategy.
“We produce local content with a unique point of view that can’t be found elsewhere and resonates with our community. We also publish mainstream stories, but we do it with a perspective and focus that appeal directly to our readers,” she said.
Editorial director Jesús Del Toro said, “We are hyper-local in many ways, but at the same time we provide general useful and practical information that our readers can use and enjoy in their daily lives. We also keep a deep content link with some key issues in Mexico and Latin America, since our readers have strong ties with their families there.”
La Raza, a free publication, distributes more than 153,000 weekly copies in 26 high density Hispanic zip codes in the Chicago area. “Our door-to-door and single copy distribution is very strategic to the block group level, concentrated in high density Hispanic zips,” Catarivas Corbett said. “We currently only have one to two percent returns on our single copy distribution.”
Catarivas Corbett believes there is still a demand for print among Hispanic readers, but La Raza is also committed to promoting its website and digital offerings. According to Catarivas Corbett, Laraza.com has shown a steady 17 percent increase in unique visitors YOY, and social media followers more than doubled with a 57 percent increase YOY.
This blend of print and digital proves to be beneficial to the paper’s advertisers. “At La Raza, we offer our clients Hispanic engagement solutions to help them achieve their marketing goals and receive the highest ROI,” Catarivas Corbett said. “We understand that each client is different and this is why we offer unique customized solutions depending on individual needs.”
The paper’s platforms include print, online, social media and event marketing. By offering a wide range of products, local sales have increased 19 percent YOY, and special editions have shown double digit growth.
“We have clients who not only want print, they may also want an event marketing campaign or social media presence,” Catarivas Corbett said. “We have to think outside the box and create the solutions.”
These solutions include marketing partnerships with the Chicago Bears, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Univision Chicago. For five years, La Raza has also hosted an annual Women Awards Luncheon and editorial series “Mujeres Destacadas.” Not only has it been a successful marketing tool, but it also brings in revenue through sponsorships.
Circulation: 3,000 weekly
The McDuffie Progress in Thomson, Ga. may be a small weekly paper, but thanks to their mascot, McDuffie the Newshound, they’re taking a big bite out of marketing and revenue. McDuffie, with his floppy ears and long tail, has become a fixture at area events and frequently visits local schools. Last year, publisher and editor Wayne Parham had the idea to tie in McDuffie with a bookmark, a product that could create a new revenue stream and promote the newspaper’s brand.
“It also served a purpose,” Parham added.
The bookmark shows McDuffie holding a book with his reading slogan: “Open a book, open a mind, open a future.” They were distributed to all elementary school children in both area public and private schools. Both McDuffie (usually it’s one of the paper’s correspondents or the front counter person underneath the costume) and Parham visited schools to talk to students about the importance of reading, paying attention, and listening to teachers and adults. According to Parham, the cost to print 5,000 copies of the bookmark was slightly more than $100. On the back, the paper designed four ad sponsor blocks and sold them at $500 each. As a result, the project generated $2,000 in revenue.
“The kids love them,” Parham said, and adults love hanging out with McDuffie. “They ham it up, taking pictures with him and dancing. We even surprise our advertisers with visits from McDuffie and let them take photos with him.”
Next, Parham plans to print another bookmark aimed toward high school students with steps on how to prepare for college. He wants to sell ad space on them again, this time targeting nearby colleges and universities.
Another key area Parham is proud of is the paper’s social media reach. For a city of only 6,500 residents, Parham has made it a priority to break local news before the larger media outlets from nearby Augusta can beat them to it.
“When our news staff is in the community, they can immediately post messages, photos or video onto our Facebook page,” he said. “That then automatically populates onto mcduffieprogress.com.”
From McDuffie the Newshound to the paper’s growing online presence, Parham said their focus is about staying local. He operates using “elbow journalism,” meaning he and his staff are out there rubbing elbows with residents in order to build relationships. And despite the doom and gloom being reported, Parham said, “Newspapers still own those relationships despite the medium, and that’s because we’re part of the community.”
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Circulation: 154,426 Sunday; 104,867 daily
In 2014, the Oklahoman launched an engagement campaign that appears to be paying off, according to editor Kelly Dyer Fry.
In February, the Oklahoman moved its offices back to a revitalized downtown Oklahoma City—which it abandoned for the suburbs more than 20 years ago—and into a more open building with an environment not unlike The Today Show set, where people can look in at the goings-on inside the paper’s new live video studio. On the building’s corner is a new 42-foot by 23-foot big screen TV overlooking a high-traffic intersection, which was turned on last Thanksgiving.
“We’re hoping it will bring in more interaction,” Fry said. “We run an eight-minute news loop, but we want to use the screen for all sorts of things, like a weather scroll, a news crawl, sports scores, stock tickers, advertising, and of course we can do a lot of engagement things. We put tweets and Instagrams on it on New Year’s Eve. People have really been wowed by it and seem excited we’re moving back downtown as well.”
Other Oklahoman improvements include a radio app which can be customized so either a male or female voice reads the paper to you; a VarsityStats app for live high school sports scores; a NewsOK Contributors feature, which gives readers and local bloggers a chance to contribute content and share their passions on a range of topics; a Sunday Stories series telling behind-the-scenes tales of Instagrammers and the photos they take; and live public events centered around new business openings as well as panel talks with Oklahoman reporters, focused on issues like faith, energy, and mental health. There’s also a new Coffee with the Editor monthly series, where 12 to 15 subscribers meet with Fry or another Oklahoman higher-up and chat about how the paper operates.
But don’t expect those sessions to be filled with reader complaints. “It’s more like, let me tell you how we work and what we’re about. Nothing is off limits,” Fry said. “Topics have ranged from how we cover local stories to the state of the industry in general.”
That state of the industry hasn’t made the Oklahoman immune to economic realities. In January, the paper axed 18 positions, with the newsroom being hit particularly hard.
“The layoffs were operational and strategic,” said Fry. “We just have to look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, but at the same time, it’s the nature of our business to work as efficiently as we can and scrutinize everything we do. We still have to innovate and explore new ways to deliver our journalism. We have to fight to be news leaders in our markets and be creative in how we deliver advertising and marketing messages.”
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, Calif.
Circulation: 327,470 Sunday; 201,996 daily
With Silicon Valley right in your backyard, how does a newspaper like the San Francisco Chronicle compete? Why not open a start-up style incubator for your newsroom? Because that’s exactly what the Chronicle did in early 2014 as a response to the paper’s new direction of going “digital first.”
“Digital was the big elephant in the room,” said editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper. “So, how we do eat that elephant? One bite at a time.”
Leading the incubator is deputy managing editor Kristen Go. With each group that enters, Go creates a syllabus unique to them. It can range from how to use Facebook to how to blog. Three departments have gone through the incubator so far: business, opinion/editorial, and food/home. Each one works together with designers, coders, and photographers on how to create reader engagement and to learn different digital tools. There isn’t a set time for how long each group stays in the program. Cooper said, “For as long as it takes,” but each group has averaged about two months. The incubator is in addition to their regular newsroom responsibilities.
“There’s a natural tendency to be scared of something you don’t understand,” Cooper said. “But our reporters love newspapers and are really happy with the specialized attention we have on digital training and learning new skills…they know this is where we’re heading.”
According to vice president of marketing Meg Ciarallo, Web traffic saw a huge boost because of this forward way of thinking. The Tech Chronicles blog saw an increase in traffic YOY of 267 percent in the first month; 797 percent the second month; 2,994 percent in the third month; and 1,539 percent in the fourth. There was also a big digital push that began last July. In its first week, the SFGate business section page views increased from nearly 587,000 to more than 2 million.
The Chronicle also launched a successful membership program last year. Starting with a soft launch in January, the site officially went live in May. The program provides subscribers with exclusive access to the best of the Bay Area, including museums, sporting events, festivals, food and wine events, and lectures. Other perks include early access to premium digital content on SFChronicle.com; private events and activities hosted by the Chronicle and curated by its reporters, editors and other subject-matter experts. The program is available to all Chronicle subscribers at no additional cost. Ciarallo said three to five members-only events are hosted every month, including a newsroom tour. Depending on the event, 20 to 250 members have attended. Ciarallo reported the program has made a positive impact on subscriber and retention rates.
Circulation: 19,000 Sunday; 17,000 daily
Changes at the Record Searchlight came about last year after one common-sense newspaper question was asked: What do our readers really care about?
So, by working with ideas from the Knight Digital Media Center, the California paper sent out teams of news personnel into the community and talked to residents about their interests, print and digital media habits, and what kinds of stories they expected the Record Searchlight to give them.
Out of this came an initiative dubbed Shaping Our Future, a team made up of eight members of the paper’s 12-person newsroom. They zeroed in on several key story topics: public safety, land use, and people making positive changes, each with a “take action” element.
“We needed to focus on what readers and potential readers wanted, especially people in their 20s and 30s,” said managing editor Carole Ferguson. “We launched it with a multi-story package in April that concentrated on our downtown in transition. There were homeless people disrupting businesses; petty and more serious crimes; builders moving forward with projects despite a depressed real estate market; and a region pocketed with run-down motels.”
Through this team approach, they found stories about people who were trying to improve the area by working with homeless groups, forming neighborhood watch organizations, and envisioning a more attractive downtown that had spaces for live theater and art galleries.
It might be merely a return to good-old solutions-based community journalism, with reporters getting away from their desks and out into the streets and meeting with real live humans, but Ferguson has seen the results of this engagement embracement. Digital subscriptions have gone way up, she said.
The paper also received a lot of positive feedback in the run-up to last year’s local elections. Not content with standard candidate interviews, the Record Searchlight opted to drive the conversation.
“We broke it all down by specific issues, and had multiple stories and multiple angles that explored all sides,” said Ferguson. “People said it was the best coverage they had ever seen us do. Having that freedom was really welcome, and our readers really liked it.”
As with all newsrooms experiencing sweeping changes, Record Searchlight reporters have been forced to do more with less, but Ferguson said this has only made the paper’s journalists focus on stories that really matter to people.
“You go and find what stories are important, then find the faces behind the story, the people behind the numbers and the statistics, and ask who will read this, and who will care. If the reporter can’t answer why someone should care, well…we can’t really do stories anymore that won’t engage people. To grow, you have to stop mourning for what we had in the past and envision a leaner, smarter, more nimble future.”
Circulation: 124,000 Sunday; 99,410 daily
Here’s one way to snag a ton of new subscribers: seduce them with shiny new iPads.
That may not work for some newspapers (and most newspaper budgets), but at the Toledo Blade, its iPad program has practically come pre-loaded with new readers.
Due largely to the Blade sharing the same Block Communications umbrella as Buckeye CableSystem, the Ohio city’s cable provider, a deal was hammered out last year with Apple that gifts iPads to new subscribers of Buckeye1, Buckeye CableSystem’s high-speed Internet service.
For rates starting at $50 a month, subscribers get the Sunday home-delivered print and seven-day digital edition of the Blade; a 50-megabit Internet hookup; access to the all-sports BCSN app (and its frequent live streaming of events); and that sweet 16-gig iPad Mini 2.
Launched in September and followed by a big promotional push on Black Friday, the program recently passed 6,000 new subscribers—90 percent of whom are new Blade readers.
Brad Vriezelaar, the Blade’s digital director, said the promotion had been in the works for two years and was rooted in the idea of giving the Blade’s digital audience a higher quality of connectivity.
“Before with our site, we were getting a lot of negative comments that were about nothing we could control, like connection speeds,” said Vriezelaar. “So we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could give readers a stable Internet connection when reading us? So we reached out to Buckeye1 and partnered with them, then pitched to Apple. Apple doesn’t let just anyone use their products as a marketing item, but they gave us permission. Based on what they shared with us, they’ve only done this with three other companies.”
Vriezelaar said that the response to the promotion has been so great that it’s paid for itself in just the first five months. “And from a trending standpoint, we haven’t hit a moment yet where the numbers go down. It puts us in a good position where we can grow our digital audience and push the paper edition too.”
The iPads also come pre-loaded with apps for Toledo-area businesses, in addition to the Blade, such as a supermarket chain, a pizza delivery service, and a local health care company.
“This program teaches a big audience how to consume us differently,” Vriezelaar said. “It puts our product in the hands of a growing digital subscriber base. It offers services that customers are already buying and bundles them together for better pricing. And it drives Sunday print subscribers.”
The E&P staff would like to thank each paper that sent us a submission this year for 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. As we read through the entries, we were inspired by the many innovations taking place at publications around the world. Narrowing down the list to just 10 papers isn’t easy, so we want to recognize those papers that didn’t quite make the final cut this time and applaud them for their achievements.
Not only did the C-Ville Weekly celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014, the paper also saw big results with revenue strategies. The paper’s first bound magazine, Best of C-Ville, increased revenue by 20 percent (that’s an additional $26,000). Its first annual guide to Charlottesville generated more than $28,000 in additional revenue. Web revenue grew by 20 percent and Web readership grew more than 40 percent.
The Dallas Morning News
The Dallas Morning News continued to explore new ways to create revenue outside of the print product. The paper’s events company, CrowdSource, aggressively expanded and positively impacted the news organization’s bottom line. From 2013 to 2014, CrowdSource was able to grow revenue by 400 percent year over year.
New London, Conn.
In 2014, The Day established a content generating team entirely outside of the newsroom with the goal of creating storytelling solutions for its advertisers. The creation of that team allowed tremendous organic growth through new products and provided new opportunities to monetize the paper’s rich database, leading to more than $300,000 of new revenues in just eight months.
In September, the Financial Times refreshed the newspaper for the modern age. The refresh was accompanied by a global brand campaign, and as a result, the paper saw increases of online subscriptions and print circulation during the month of the launch.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser created two community events that addressed the needs of the local community: the Hawaii Homebuyers Fair and the Hawaii Career Expo. The first Hawaii Homebuyers Fair attracted 32 exhibitors and 600 attendees. The second fair held in August saw 37 exhibitors and nearly 1,000 attendees. In addition, both the spring and summer Hawaii Career Expos attracted nearly 100 exhibitors and 3,000 attendees. In 2015, the paper will add a Home and New Products Fair for a minimum of six events.
Lancaster Newspapers (LNP)
In October, the Intelligencer-Journal/New Era/Sunday News moniker (the result of years of mergers and consolidation) was replaced by the more modern LNP: Always Lancaster, as part of a complete redesign of the newspaper. LancasterOnline was streamlined and updated, and more emphasis was placed on launching products to serve the growing mobile audience. An in-house training program, LNP University, launched in late 2014.
Los Angeles News Group
Los Angeles, Calif.
The Los Angeles News Group, which consists of nine dailies and six weeklies, developed a training program focused mainly on digital skills, current industry trends and a collaborative approach. The program’s cornerstone, “Personal Digital Plans,” creates highly customized pathways for each journalist to improve. In addition, the group dramatically overhauled its entertainment sections to the benefit of both print and digital products.
The News-Gazette began using a drone to complement its coverage in print and online. Taking stills and video from high above, the paper combined the visual elements made possible by the drone with narration provided by in-house editorial staff to produce a highly-popular Web product. In the coming year, the paper plans on taking an “Aerial America” approach and tour towns in its circulation area, attracting geographically appropriate video sponsorship along the way.
The Northwest Herald
Crystal Lake, Ill.
Each year, the Northwest Herald promotes a contest called “Everyday Heroes,” soliciting reader nominations of people who are making a difference within the local community. Those selected are featured in the paper’s annual Progress Edition, a print and online section. It’s one of the paper’s top revenue producer generating ad sales, sponsorships, and ticket revenues. In 2014, the award breakfast sold out with standing room only.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Odysseys is an ongoing multimedia project highlighting individual stories from the city’s rich immigrant community. It has aggregated thousands of pageviews and hundreds of unique visitors, including recognition in the community and nationwide.
Even as the Reading Eagle expands and improves its online offerings, the paper continues to develop and add targeted weekly publications that are part of the daily editions. They include: Weekend, a Thursday entertainment guide; Voices, a Tuesday tabloid written by and for community teens; Business Weekly, a part of the paper’s Tuesday edition aimed at the business community; and Berks Country, a weekly magazine section geared at rural readers. The Berks Country section routinely brings in $5,000 or more in weekly revenue, and special editions have topped $20,000.
Woodland Park, N.J.
The Record launched a new branding campaign in 2014. Using the slogan “I know. I read it in The Record,” the effort utilized billboards, radio spots, T-shirts, in-paper ads and the paper’s delivery trucks to spread the message. While the cost to readers to pay for Record subscriptions increased, circulation held fast, with 98.8 percent of subscribers renewing. The Record also launched a new website for teachers that encourage them to access its digital edition for classroom use free of charge.
York Daily Record/Sunday News
The York Daily Record/Sunday News led the way for its parent company, Digital First Media, to become the first U.S. news organization to launch a peer-support program for journalists who are or could be affected by coverage of trauma and violence. The YDR now includes in every new employee’s orientation a one-hour course on trauma awareness and peer-support. In addition to helping journalists who have experienced trauma themselves, this training also helps journalists deal more sensitively and effectively with the people they are covering.