By: Lucia Moses

Lincoln Journal Star Editor Believes In Power Of Both

When Palm Pilots become as commonplace as wristwatches, will people
still read the newspaper? David Stoeffler may be an Internet
aficionado, but he remains a newspaper editor who believes the mass-

market, printed newspaper will be around for a long time to come.

‘There’s something about the front page of a newspaper that can’t be
duplicated online,’ says Stoeffler, editor of the Lincoln (Neb.)
Journal Star, daily circulation 73,255, and chairman of parent Lee
Enterprises Inc.’s readership team.

‘People want to get a sense of the relative importance of events,’
Stoeffler explains. ‘People are going to continue to cling to a
newspaper as a community context. In my lifetime, I expect there to be
newspapers around,’ predicts Stoeffler, who is 40. ‘I believe people
will pay more for newspapers, just like they pay for magazines.’

Tomorrow’s newspaper will evolve, however, as people get more breaking
news and specialized information on hand-held gadgets and more story
versions on the Web. Forget the inverted pyramid style: print-version
stories will be written magazine-style, heavy on the context.
‘Newspapers will be more of a magazine for people while the online site
will be breaking news,’ Stoeffler says.

As for reporters, what’s old will become new. Like the around-the-clock
newspaper reporters of yesterday, tomorrow’s journalists will have to
be able to update stories throughout the day for the electronic media.
They’ll also have to be able to put it all in context for the next
day’s paper.

‘The ideal reporter will be one who can do it all: cover a daily news
story and make it sing, but also produce an analysis story,’ Stoeffler

For a publisher of small- to medium-size newspapers, Lee put its papers
online relatively early. All of Lee’s 21 daily papers now have an
online presence, and next to come are more frequent news updates, links
to other sources of information, and audio and video news clips.

Stoeffler has been one of Lee’s most vocal proponents of the Internet.
While editor at the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune before coming to Lincoln,
he helped launch that paper’s Web site, which later became the first of
Lee’s newspaper sites to do afternoon content updates.

But print newspapers also need to think of themselves as community
portals, Stoeffler believes. ‘If you’re new to a community, my guess is
the best way to find out what’s going on is by picking up the

Newspapers already may be losing classified revenues to the Internet,
and the way they make money might continue to change. Advertising will
remain their primary source of income for a long time, but newspapers
might turn the current model on its head and start giving away print
classifieds and charging for online ads in certain categories.

As technology improves, people will be able to watch videos of speeches
and news conferences instead of reading a journalist’s filtered version
of them. With so much information available to readers in different
forms, will journalists be rendered obsolete? Not likely, Stoeffler
says. People will be able to get more news that interests them instead
of being limited to a single newspaper or broadcast.

‘I think people have time, and they make time for things they really
care about,’ he observes. After watching the video online of a speech
firsthand, people might even start to trust the media more if they
believe reporters analyzed the speech correctly. ‘They could say, ‘Wow,
they’re actually doing their job,” Stoeffler remarks, chuckling.

Now that would be worth waiting for.


Lucia Moses ( is associate
editor for Editor & Publisher magazine.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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