10 Newspapers That Do It Right 2017: Achieving Growth in Circulation, Revenue and Engagement

By: Nu Yang and Sean Stroh
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Our annual 10 Newspapers That Do It Right feature once again puts a spotlight on some of the biggest and brightest ideas occurring in our industry right now. From digital initiatives that are tapping into new audiences to community programs that are fostering stronger relationships, the ideas are as diverse as each market each publication serves.

As you read through this year’s 10 newspapers and our list of honorable mentions, we hope you find something that will stir your newsroom, your advertising department, or your community into action.

 

Circulation department
Members of the Albany Times Union’s circulation and customer service departments gather for a photo.

Albany Times Union
Albany, N.Y.
Circulation:
95,208 Sunday; 83,034 daily

In 2016, the Albany Times Union made a commitment to refocus on their subscribers. They did that by offering Thursday through Sunday and/or Sunday-only print delivery as primary options. The strategy was a success, securing an additional 5,067 new Thursday through Sunday and Sunday-only print starts versus the previous year. In addition, the paper limited discounted offers to 50 percent with limited exceptions through the year. According to circulation sales and marketing manager Brad Hunt, this move also countered past programs offering heavy introductory discounts which resulted in higher churn and/or downgrades.

“As consumers continue to downsize their subscriptions to fit into a busier and more digital audience, this change in tactics presented the consumer with flexibility,” he said.

Vice president of circulation Todd Peterson said he and Hunt set the table for this plan in 2015 with the goal to reduce subscription stops in 2016. The paper partnered with Leap Media Solutions to analyze data numbers in order to adopt more efficient retention and engagement touch points. As a result, starts increased by 7 percent and stops decreased by 18 percent, giving the paper a net gain of more than 1,200 starts over stops for the year.

When given the ability to position the lower frequency delivery options as the primary offer, Hunt said kiosk and telemarketing vendors wrote an additional 3,907 subscriptions over the previous year. Digital efforts such as email and online also secured 714 additional starts versus the previous year.

Hunt pointed to the recent Thanksgiving edition campaign. The Times Union promoted Thursday and Sunday delivery using one of the limited use price points below 50 percent off, where customers received eight weeks of delivery for just $8. Through kiosk locations, telemarketing, direct mail, single copy inserts, and online promotions, 284 new starts were generated over a six week period. Compared to 2015’s promotion, the 2016 campaign produced 61 percent more responses.

Another “a-ha moment” for the Times Union, Hunt said, was when the new chip feature was added to many of their customers’ credit and bank cards.

“Unknowingly, many customer card numbers changed when their new chip card arrived. In some cases, just an expiration date was changed,” he said. “(We) deployed email and retooled direct mail efforts to counter the pending impact.” The initiative resulted in nearly 1,000 payment updates over several days.

Peterson said these ideas were about “controlling the stops and saving the customers” instead of losing them due to lapsed subscriptions and offers. “We exceeded all our expectations and met our goals in 2016, and by reacting and being proactive, we expect to exceed them again in 2017.”

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Pictured is the advertising, circulation, and marketing team of the Albuquerque Journal.

Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque, N.M.
Circulation:
98,090 Sunday; 81,281 daily

In 2016, the Albuquerque Journal reinvigorated their approach to real estate with the launch of HomeStyle. The tabloid made its debut inside of the Journal in May, but it quickly became a standalone section in October. Published every Friday, more than 86,000 copies are distributed to Journal readers and 3,500-plus copies are delivered to grocery stores, real estate offices and related businesses. According to marketing manager Lauren Rolls, the magazine averaged $30,000 in revenue each month and is budgeted for more than $451,000 for 2017. In the coming year, the magazine will target apartment dwellers and expand into the Santa Fe market.

Vice president and chief revenue officer Joe Leong credited the unique content found inside the magazine for its success. “Even if you’re not looking for a house, you will find something interesting,” he said.

Editorial content primarily comes from local real estate professionals and includes commercial and residential industry insights, do-it-yourself projects, consumer tips, profiles on local companies and professionals, plus local market stats. The website ABQJournal.com/homestyle features interactive search capabilities for multiple listing services of homes for sales and open houses in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe area.

The Journal also made it a priority to invest in its classifieds section by working with the right partner. They outsourced their classifieds (the paper kept legals and obituaries) to A Marketing Resource (AMR), freeing up their sales reps to focus on local retailers.

“Per call, they’re making seventy more dollars than we were able to do,” Leong said.

The Journal also took advantage of AMR’s sister company, SkyBridge Mobile, by adding digital components to their print ads, activating a “text to” feature that sends customers links to a mobile-optimized website.

“We have budgeted over $500,000 in 2017 and are confident this is a conservative projection as the fourth quarter of 2016 generated over $100,000 in new revenue,” said Rolls.

Lastly, the Journal worked with the 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta team to create a new, official app for the event. By signing a multi-year deal, the paper was able to secure $30,000 in sponsorships for 2016, with sponsorship opportunities of more than $50,000 for 2017.

Although print still plays a big role for them, Leong said there are certain categories where newspapers can think outside the box. Whether it’s creating an app or partnering with a vendor, Leong said the motivation was always, “How do we buck the trend?”

Ledger-Enquirer publisher Rodney Mahone announces a $70,000 investment in the first phase of Together 2016 at Theo McGee Park in Columbus, Ga.

Ledger-Enquirer 
Columbus, Ga.
Circulation: 24,000 Sunday; 20,000 daily

Rodney Mahone always envisioned bringing a special type of project to the Ledger-Enquirer. As publisher, he was well aware of the impact the newspaper could have on the community and wished to showcase it in some way. By using a proven model introduced in several other markets by Kim Nussbaum, vice president of advertising for parent company McClatchy, Mahone successfully brought the paper and 22 other local leaders together as part of a year-long effort to improve their community.

“Every market is unique of course so you have to tweak it and adjust to your area, but (Kim) had a solid plan that was well tested,” Mahone said. “I thought that if it worked in more than half a dozen other McClatchy markets why couldn’t it work right here in Columbus?”

As part of the Together 2016 civic initiative, each participating member served on a board of directors and provided a financial investment that was then allocated toward funding community projects, marketing the program and administrative costs. For three months, the board collected ideas for neighborhood and regional projects from local residents, before selecting the most applicable for implementation.

The neighborhood projects funded by the campaign included five scholarships for high school students, 11 markers along the Martin Luther King Jr. Learning Trail and more than 55 Little Free Libraries in Columbus, Fort Benning and nearby Phenix City, Ala. A $135,000 investment was made for enhancements on the Frank K. Martin Pedestrian Bridge as the group’s regional project.

In addition to making a tangible impact on their community, the Ledger-Enquirer was also able to showcase its digital capabilities through their Together 2016 multimedia marketing campaign.

“We exposed who the newspaper is now and how we’re able to use our platforms to reach a bigger audience than any time in our history to some of the leaders in our community,” Mahone said. “It let people know that we are so much more than just a half-page print solution.”

Most importantly, Mahone said, is the fact that the community-building model used by the Ledger-Enquirer and others can serve as a blueprint for newspapers looking to make a difference in their own neighborhood.

“I think it’s something that can be replicated by other newspapers. It gives you the chance to both work with the key leaders in your market for your readers as well as highlight your own platforms,” Mahone said. “You get to redefine the newspaper to the biggest stakeholders in the community.”

NIE Staff_TheOklahoman_r2_web
The Oklahoman’s Newspapers in Education team include (from left) Ashley Howard, Bailey Huntsman, Brooke Marley and Angela Meade.

Oklahoman
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Circulation: 147,582 Sunday; 105,632 daily

When staff members at the Oklahoman’s Newspapers in Education (NIE) program learned they were at risk of losing nearly 30 percent of its funding last year, the team recognized doing one thing wouldn’t help—panicking.

Instead, the group went back to the basics, outlining creative fundraising opportunities revolved around community engagement. By the end of the year, funding for the program exceeded $420,000, a 9.9 percent increase from 2015.

Ashley Howard, NIE educational services and digital audience development manager, noted several key changes in how they approached fundraising, including refocusing their efforts on the paper’s most loyal readers.

“My theory is that when you’re talking to your subscribers, you’re speaking with people who already see the value in consuming credible news information,” Howard said. “This makes it much easier to translate the importance of what we are doing for the students. We work off a model where they can actually sponsor a student for an entire semester.”

NIE staff also began organizing community events such as the Academic Excellence Luncheon, which helped raise more than $17,000. The special event recognized community partners and the program’s sponsor of the year.

While Howard acknowledged the funds raised were significant, the relationships formed proved to be even more valuable.

“When we can establish meaningful relationships with sponsors we are forging bonds that ultimately lead to an emotional investment in the program,” Howard said. “These people believe in our mission and give both time and money to ensure its success.”

Another popular new event introduced by the team last year was the Cars for Education show. Those who participated in the car show had an opportunity to not only display their cars but compete against other auto enthusiasts in several different categories. Attendees were treated to live music, food trucks and a visit from the Thunder Girls, the official dance team for NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder.

According to Howard, NIE plans to host a golf tournament this year in addition to the luncheon and car show.

“We found that most of our challenges came from a lack of personal experiences.  No one from our team had ever participated in a car show before so it took a lot of dedication to attend a variety of shows and seek relationships with people that knew what they were doing,” Howard said. “We relied on others to be the experts and carried out a large scale survey to assess where we can learn and do better next year.”

 

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Petoskey News-Review digital reporter Matt Mikus prepares for a podcast.

Petoskey News-Review
Petoskey, Mich.
Circulation:
9,000 daily (Monday-Friday)

Eighteen months ago, the Petoskey News-Review split the newsroom into digital-focused reporters and print-focused reporters, and the payoff continued in 2016 as they amped up production of videos, photo galleries and interactive graphics.

“In the digital world, we have seen leaps in viewership with readers clicking on our multimedia offerings over 200 percent more than in the previous year,” said executive editor Jeremy McBain. “This growth is mirrored in the numbers of people that visit our websites to read various stories written for a digital audience with average online sessions and the time they are spending on our site up by double digit percentages in each category.”

When the newspaper made the decision to split the newsroom, McBain said it allowed both groups to produce more high-quality content. Over the course of five years, a reporter’s responsibilities have grown beyond a 40-hour work week, he explained, and he realized that his reporters were being pulled in too many different directions. So, he looked at his six reporters and instead of splitting it down the middle, he refocused their duties and beats to where it was 80 percent digital and 20 percent print.

There were different expectations from each reporter now. The digital reporters had fewer beats, had to create daily digital offerings like video and photo galleries, and come up with quarterly digital-only initiatives.  Those focused on print delved deeper into longer investigative and enterprise pieces.

In addition to the revamped teams, the small newsroom is also experimenting with technology typically found at larger papers. McBain highlighted their 360 degree/virtual reality technology, which has also been translated into online advertisements. The paper also experimented with augmented reality in its entertainment publication. In 2017, McBain plans to add more staff members to produce videos and podcasts, and he wants to put their news drone back in the air once they receive their FAA license. He’s also figuring out ways to convert these new skills and technology to the advertising side.

“Last year it was all about editorial, but now that we know what we can create and do, how can we monetize this?” he said. “The more diversified our revenue streams, the more ways we can put our products in front of readers.”

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The Quad-City Times news and sports staff

Quad-City Times
Davenport, Iowa
Circulation:
44,876, Sunday; 39,876 daily

When Autumn Phillips became Quad-City Times executive editor in December 2015, she implemented a strategy process that led to the creation of a new beat structure, a content-driven redesign of the Sunday newspaper and creation of new content categories. The process also led to innovations in the physical layout of the newsroom and in the paper’s digital workflow.

Starting in January 2016, each newsroom employee was tasked with interviewing a former subscriber. Phillips explained they were told to interview the subjects about life: their struggles and concerns, their hopes and dreams, and their family life and daily routines.

“The idea was to design a print product and a set of newsroom behaviors that responded to our community’s true needs, not just to what they tell us they want to read,” she said.

In February, the newsroom shared their information on large Post-It notes displayed on a wall. By analyzing these demographics, needs, drivers, and trends, Phillips and city editor Dan Bowerman designated team leaders and assigned four to five people to each group. They were asked to brainstorm beat ideas based on the themes, and with several new beats in place (such as a Caretakers/Aging beat, a Neighborhoods beat, and a Paycheck beat), the attention shifted to changing the newsroom in order to encourage risk-taking, collaboration and creativity. The new layout required putting desks in teams of two or three where the new beats overlapped and creating common areas where reporters could work together.

The changes have resulted in better communication and an improved newsroom culture because it was a team effort, said Phillips.

Phillips also took a look at the paper’s digital offerings. “(In 2016), we developed three routine-predictable, personality-driven pieces,” she said. “Rick’s Six, Jack’s Notes@ Noon and Ryan’s Wrap-Up have each become a popular and sustained part of our daily digital report.”

Rick’s Six is written every morning by a.m. digital editor Rick Rector. It contains six points every commuter needs to know that morning (from traffic to weather reports) and sent through a push alert every morning. Jack’s Notes @ Noon is compiled by reporter Jack Cullen, where he wanders the streets and takes a photo of someone he meets and writes a short story to go with the photo. Ryan’s Wrap-Up is sent out every day at 5 p.m. with a push alert. The in-depth, quick read by digital editor Ryan Jaster features the day’s popular stories and photos for the commuter driving home.

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Rockford Register Star executive editor Mark Baldwin leads a discussion on race during the paper’s community conversation.

Rockford Register Star
Rockford, Ill.
Circulation: 40,000 Sunday; 30,000 daily

In 2016, the Rockford Register Star saw its editorial board road shows and public conversations continue to grow in interest from the public.

The Register Star’s “Race in the Rock River Valley,” a yearlong occasional series examining a variety of issues regarding race in the region and the people it affects, provided an opportunity for a series of dialogues with the community. The first round table discussion drew about 100 people.

Every few months, the paper’s editorial board also holds its own meeting in a public space, typically in partnership with a community organization. The purpose of the “road show” meetings is to clarify the role of the board as well as hear what local residents have to say.

“There’s never been a time when we’ve done an editorial board road show or done a public conversation that we didn’t learn something. Typically, those that come are not people whose names fill up the newspaper,” said Mark Baldwin, the paper’s executive editor. “What we’re really trying to do is set a tone for the community and show them how to have a productive civil dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the Register Star’s sister publication in Freeport, the Journal-Standard, found success with the debut of the Freeport Fish Tank competition. The Journal-Standard is a two-person news operation directed from Rockford.

When the final event of the paper’s inaugural contest, which coincided with game one of the World Series, drew a standing-room only audience of roughly 200 people, they knew it had made a special impact on the community.

“It was pretty remarkable considering that the Cubs are wildly popular here. I think what it did is rekindle the pride of this small community,” said Baldwin, who also serves as executive editor of the Journal-Standard. “It really gives people something to be proud of.”

The paper’s editorial board members launched the “Shark Tank” style contest last August in the hopes of increasing the entrepreneurial spirit of Freeport. In total, the competition drew 26 applications from people who wanted to open or expand businesses or non-profits in the area.

Additionally, the Freeport Fish Tank project earned the paper its second consecutive community journalism public service grant of $2,500 from the Associated Press Media Editors.

Freeport High School students, who pitched building escape rooms, which challenge participants to solve various puzzles to get out of a space, ultimately emerged as the competition’s first-place winner. The team won a package worth more than $12,500, including a $2,000 advertising deal from the Journal-Standard. 

Co-hosts Jabari Young (left on screen) and Tom Orsborn (right on screen) prepare to tape a segment as associate general manager Jason Roberts works in the production studio during the filming of S.A. Sports Nation.

San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio, Texas
Circulation:
125,000 Sunday; 82,000 daily

The city of San Antonio is probably best known for two things: its rich history and its NBA team the Spurs. It’s no wonder the Express-News has capitalized on both aspects.

In October 2015, the paper launched a 48-page, all-color tabloid magazine, Spurs Nation, full of original and exclusive reportage on the team (it currently has 80,000 subscribers and is inserted in the Sunday paper and sold on newsstands). Four months after the magazine launched, a half-hour Spurs Nation television show debuted on the local NBC affiliate. On Spurs game days, the paper began publishing a double-truck with a scouting report and feature story. Much of the content is accessible on the paper’s premium subscriber website, ExpressNews.com, and on a niche site, SpursNation.com. In a single buy, advertisers are able to appear in the magazine and newspaper, and on the TV show and websites.

“The TV show is now called S.A. Sports Nation, but no matter what the name, it has carved out a dominant position on Sunday nights,” said managing editor Jamie Stockwell. During a recent week in December, the show’s rating was 10 times higher than ESPN’s competing SportsCenter.

The paper is also experimenting in book publishing. This past holiday season, the Express-News published a Spurs Nation book chronicling major moments in San Antonio basketball. The book followed the earlier success of a volume published in the fall of 2015, commemorating the paper’s 150th anniversary. In January 2015, the paper began publishing a daily, full-page historical feature. Each weekday was themed and advertising was sold on an adjacent, full-page. The book is now in its third edition.

Looking ahead, the Express-News will launch a new series of daily historical articles, with ad sponsorship, leading up to the celebration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018. The result will be a companion book, covering the first 150 years of San Antonio’s history. The paper will also produce daily Tricentennial Minutes to air on local TV stations next year.

Additionally, the paper partnered with a local auto dealership to create a unique experience for school-aged kids: A History in Motion RV named Olé. The RV travels to area schools, where fourth grade students can experience local and state history come alive through an interactive and educational exhibit.

These projects are just a few examples of how the paper is “taking stock of content (they) already have,” said Stockwell. “We’re thinking outside of the paper and finding new ways to make money. As a result, we’re getting our work in front of new audiences, but retaining our loyal readers.”

kgcoffee11
Takayuki Miyazaki, a barista from The Local Coffee Stand in Tokyo, Japan, shows his skills at the Good Coffee Tokyo booth.

Straits Times
Singapore
Circulation: 390,000 daily (print and digital)

Getting millennials to recognize the value of newspapers, not just in print but through digital and mobile platforms as well, is a challenge publishers continue to grapple with throughout the world.

At the Straits Times, that question led to the creation of Singapore’s first coffee festival. The idea first originated from the events division of the Times’ parent company, Singapore Press Holdings.

Over the course of four days last June, Singapore’s F1 Pit Building played host to more than 100 vendors ranging from cafes and coffee roasters to stalls selling books and home décor. By the end of the festival, the total number of guests that had attended reached 20,000, twice the turnout originally expected.

“We wanted to target a millennial crowd in particular, and much of the publicity was specifically created for maximum impact on social media,” said managing editor Fiona Chan. “It clearly worked as the group that showed up exceeded our expectations, and we had to implement crowd control measures on the spot.”

A wildly popular element of the festival was a series of daily workshops led by a local café. Within two days, every session available with the coffeemaker had been booked, prompting curious onlookers to watch the workshops from the viewing gallery.

However, the festival provided much more than just a refreshing cup of coffee. At the paper’s designated Reading Room onsite, guests had the chance to interact with reporters, columnists and editors at the Times through a series of hourlong askST Q&A sessions on topics affecting the residents of Singapore.

“Readers are increasingly looking for more than just commoditized news that they can get for free anywhere. What they want is to engage with journalists and newsmakers, to ask specific questions about the issues that interest them and to obtain detailed answers,” Chan said. “As a branding exercise, the Straits Times found the coffee festival very useful in reaching out to a younger audience that doesn’t necessarily equate a national broadsheet with expertise on topics that are relevant to their age group.”

Additionally, a select number of guests on the final two days of the festival were treated to an eight-course meal curated by food editor Tan Hsueh Yun, who also hosted the special dinner and chat.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the festival, the paper plans on bringing it back this year to a larger location that can accommodate a bigger crowd and more sponsors.

WorldCivility Day2017_NorthwestTimes_r2_web
(From left) Bob Heisse, editor of The Times Media Co., and Chuck Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, announce the 2017 World Civility Day.

Times of Northwest Indiana
Munster, Ind.
Circulation: 51,630 Sunday; 41,080 daily

Despite launching the Community Civility Counts initiative in the spring of 2015, the Times of Northwest Indiana, in partnership with the Gary Chamber of Commerce, took their campaign to the next level in 2016.

Though the civility initiative was already comprised of several different parts from the very beginning, including a logo, a #CivilityCounts hashtag, Facebook page, an essay and drawing contest for kids, and a civility pledge on the paper’s opinion page, the team recognized room for growth in its second year.

In fact, the year began with a high point for the initiative when the Indiana Senate unanimously approved a resolution commending the group for “delivering an awareness campaign to remind everyone about the need for civility and treating each other right.” The State House approved the same resolution a week later.

“That was a big boost for us,” said Bob Heisse, editor of the Times Media Co., which publishes the Times. “We got a huge standing ovation in the senate and several members made comments in support of it as well. After that we figured since our one year anniversary was going to be in April, why not hold a special day?”

A few months later, the inaugural World Civility Day attracted visitors from 10 states to the city of Gary and featured Clyde Rivers, a United Nations world peace ambassador, as its keynote speaker. Nearly 200 people attended the event, which Heisse said will continue this year albeit with an upgraded location and program.

“The only problem we had last year was that we couldn’t have younger people there because it was at a casino,” Heisse said. “This year, we decided to get away from the casino and expand World Civility Day into something that has workshops, takeaways and an evening event.”

Another new component added to the initiative was Civility in the Classroom, a weekly pilot program intended to promote news literacy and civility with self, others and as a leader. After the pilot phase of the program ended in June, Summer Moore, digital and audience engagement editor, gathered a group of educators from Gary to expand it into a year-long curriculum.

“The reaction to the first pilot program was incredible. We were given essays from the students that mentioned how we changed the culture of the room and empowered them in the class to be leaders for civility in their schools,” Moore said. “We are very excited to see what the students’ reactions are this year.”

 

Honorable Mentions

The E&P staff thanks each paper that sent us a submission this year for 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. As we read through the entries, we were encouraged by the quality of work being done at publications around the world. It gets harder every year to narrow down the list to just 10 papers, but we still want to recognize the ones that didn’t quite make the final cut this time.

 

Akron Beacon Journal
Akron, Ohio

In December 2015, the Beacon Journal pulled together a group of a dozen Ohio media outlets to discuss ways to work together during the presidential campaign to produce news content that earned the trust of citizens. Named “Your Vote Ohio,” the project received support from the Knight Foundation for polling and deliberative sessions in which citizens defined their top issues.

 

Arizona Republic
Phoenix, Ariz.

In the past year, the Arizona Republic launched AZPublicInfo.com, a one-stop solution that links directly to public records for more than 800 Arizona state, county, law enforcement and school district boards, bodies or agencies. The paper also launched Street Scout, a real estate website, and XAZ, a free membership program that features travel content about exploring the state of Arizona. Additionally, a live storytellers program launched at the Republic several years ago was scaled this year across the USA TODAY NETWORK.

Gainesville Sun
Gainesville, Fla.

In March 2016, a black Gainesville teenager holding a soft pellet gun was killed by police officers and sheriff’s deputies. The Gainesville Sun dedicated its small resources to deeply investigating disparities that fall along racial lines and initiated Gainesville For All (#GNV4ALL), convening people across divides, holding community forums, focusing study groups, and partnering with the big players and grassroots activists.

Galveston County Daily News
Galveston, Texas

The Galveston County Daily News launched a magazine line, Coast Monthly, using existing staff and distribution. The product is on track to reach $1 million annually while expanding the advertiser base, and building a new and powerful print franchise. The process is being replicated in other sister newspapers with expected collective revenues to cross $4 million in 2017.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Honolulu, Hawaii

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser published a special Pearl Harbor 75th Commemorative Edition. The National Park Service provided nearly 1,000 pages of first-person accounts from military personnel who witnessed the attack. The 88-page special edition was promoted through rack cards, digital banners, email blasts and social media posts. As a result, the paper distributed 16,262 more copies than the previous week, a total that included a bump in single-copy sales of 5,680 copies. In addition, the digital store sold more than 825 additional newspapers by year-end. The print edition brought in $125,000 in new advertising revenue.

News-Gazette
Champaign, Ill.

To combat the notion that young people don’t read newspapers, the News-Gazette set out to have young people “write” newspapers. “High School Confidential” served as the springboard to a broader goal of winning over the high school crowd—in print, online and via social media. In August, the paper asked principals at 35 area high schools to nominate one student to serve as their weekly correspondent. The paper also asked them to use their cell phones to submit photos. Their edited work encompassed a full color page each Wednesday.

San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, Calif.

The San Francisco Chronicle completed two key innovative projects in 2016. “Last Men Standing” was a storytelling project and feature-length documentary about long-term AIDS survivors. The Chronicle also spearheaded the SF Homeless Project, a collaboration of more than 80 Northern California media organizations that agreed to cover issues of homelessness on the same days. The coverage garnered national attention and was emulated in cities around the country. It led to various ballot initiatives, legislation and significant philanthropic donations and will continue in 2017.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sarasota, Fla.

After winning a Pulitzer Prize with the Tampa Bay Times in 2016, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune doubled down on its investigative and enterprise journalism and launched four major projects. “Bias on the Bench” tackled an overlooked problem plaguing Florida’s court system, the disparate treatment between black and white defendants. When a local man went missing in Texas in March 2013, the Herald-Tribune began investigating his disappearance in “What Happened to Mason?” A series of stories on Medicaid produced more than a dozen Page 1 stories showing the gaping holes in the system meant to keep Florida’s children healthy. “Can You Afford to Live in Paradise?” examined how rental rates, availability and the conversation surround housing are shaping the future of local young professionals.

St. Helena Star
Helena, Calif. 

Located in the heart of the Napa Valley, the St. Helena Star decided to create a better way to report on the wines they were recommending to readers. They partnered with the Napa Valley Vintners and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to create a 20 to 25 person tasting panel. Each month there is a different varietal tasted, all current release and all available for purchase. After the tasting, there is a discussion about the wines, which is the basis for an article that is printed in the St. Helena Star and the other papers that are part of Napa Valley Publishing.

Today’s News-Herald
Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Lake Havasu City’s Vision 20/20 committee identified a drought of young people as a potential problem for the community’s continued success. The Today’s News-Herald knew they could help make a difference in the perception of the community by highlighting young people who were already working to build a better future. They published its first “Under 40” section at the end of September 2016, highlighting 30 of the up-and-coming local leaders. To honor them, the News-Herald partnered with the Vision 20/20 group and a local economic development firm for a gathering, where they unveiled a beer called “Bright Future,” custom brewed in coordination with Havasu’s four local microbreweries and featuring an original label with the names of each person in the “Under 40” section.

Published: March 1, 2017

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