‘News-Herald,’ Pa. Weekly Group Will Conduct Journal Register Co.’s ‘Ben Franklin’ Publishing Experiment

By: E&P Staff

Within 30 days, the newsrooms at the News-Herald, a daily in Willoughby, Ohio, and the weekly group Montgomery Media, will produce editions using only free digital tools from the Internet.

The Ben Franklin Project is intended to demonstrate the newspapers’ connection to their communities, says John Paton, CEO of the parent Journal Register Co.

“We want to highlight that in the new news ecology it isn’t just the size of the newsroom that counts but how well it harnesses the power of the web and the audience,” Paton wrote in John Paton’s Blog. “This project will show not just how talented our staff is but also how connected we are to our communities. By using digital tools, we are going to the community to find out what they want covered and, by involving them in that coverage, we can dive more deeply into important subjects than we have been able to do before.”

Paton used the example of getting a story idea about a blighted
Building in a neighborhood, reported by citizens who research online to identify the owner responsible.

“Using social media and other digital tools available to us we will crowd source the news assignments, creation, editing and publishing of content,” Paton said. “And we will do all of this in real-time with constant updates to that newspaper?s website.”

At the News-Herald, the effort will be led by Executive Editor Tricia Ambrose and Managing Editor Laura Kessel. Montgomery Media Managing Editor Emily Morris and Online Editor Andy Stettler will head a separate project at the weekly group.

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