By: Joe Strupp

Massachusetts Paper Displays Innovative Editing

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by Joe Strupp

Marie Grady of the Union-News in Springfield, Mass., knows the chances
of George W. Bush or Al Gore commenting on concerns in her region, from
crime rates to housing, are about as likely as Red Sox fans cheering the
demolition of Fenway Park.

So, in an effort to give her readers some presidential views on local
issues, the Union-News managing editor launched a project that allows
her readers to pepper the candidates with locally based questions.

Dubbed the ‘in-paper debate,’ the effort began Aug. 20 when the 92,133-daily-circulation paper published an issues ballot asking voters
to rate which local concerns they would most like the presidential
candidates to address. Once the ballots are tabulated, the editorial
staff will forward the most popular questions to Gore and Bush campaign
officials, seeking responses that will be published over several days
in October.

‘The idea is to get as many details as possible in a relatively
digestible form,’ says Grady, ‘on real, regional issues that people
here care about.’

Grady says she first employed the approach during the 1996 U.S. Senate
race between former Gov. William Weld and Sen. John Kerry. That effort,
says Grady, provided a daily listing of comments from each candidate
over five days.

‘It helped readers decide where they stood on the issues instead of
relying on sound bites,’ says Grady. ‘We also contacted readers
ourselves and got comments from them that ran in the paper each day.’


Joe Strupp ( is an associate editor for

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