For as long as I’ve been at E&P, our March issue has always been home to our list of 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. As we state in our nomination form, the purpose is not meant to be a list of the 10 Best Newspapers, but it’s to highlight successful ideas from 10 newspapers. I’ve shared how it’s one of my favorite issues to put together: everything from reading through the submissions, selecting the 10 publications, interviewing the people whose work we are recognizing, and seeing the story come together always reminds me there are some bright spots in our industry—and they’re all worth celebrating. I’m sure you, as a reader, can also appreciate the good work that is being done at these newspapers.
But as we were putting together the story in January, many of our colleagues at Gannett, BuzzFeed and HuffPost were let go. Those in the newspaper industry have seen their share of layoffs, but the announcement that BuzzFeed was cutting about 215 people (that’s 15 percent of its operation) came as a shock, especially since digital media is supposed to lead the way for the future of news.
There’s a reason why we don’t call it 10 Newspapers That Do It Perfectly—because there’s no such thing. We’re all still learning, still growing, still pushing, still trying to do it right.
I’ll leave the rest of this space to some of the newspapers who are doing just that.
“Journalism isn’t changing, but the ways to tell stories and where to tell them is evolving dramatically. We believe the key to success if having one foot planted on the side of tradition and the other planted on the side of innovation.”— Paul Pronovost, Cape Cod Times
“Newspapers can not only survive but thrive by engaging in their local communities. People love to read about themselves and their neighbors. National news has its place and even regional news outlet such as local television, but your local newspaper is where people can really connect with their community. No one else is going to tell you who had the best golf game, what club gave money to the Boys and Girls Club, or who is the local high school athlete of the week. Even your local news stations aren’t covering small, local interest stories in depth. Newspapers do. Lean on that.—Misty Castile, Hot Springs Village Voice
“In this age of doubt, the so-called ‘post-truth’ era, newspapers can grow by maintaining or regaining a position of trust in society. Many people still care about discerning truth by reading the facts, and we must be seen as the most trusted source for news and information to remain relevant. We do that by holding each other accountable to the highest standards of journalism: Accuracy and fairness are paramount.”—Alan Miller, Columbus Dispatch
“The very best newspapers deliver on three fronts: Sense of urgency, sense of surprise and sense of place. That means agility on breaking news, but also a keen understanding about the importance of depth and analysis on big stories. That means turning a series of arsons into an enterprising trend piece. It’s about delivering content that speaks to our audience and where they live. It’s about doing something unexpected.”—Chris Coates, Herald & Review
“For newspapers to continue to grow and prosper, every single person working for a newspaper has to focus on the positive. Newspapers have been their own bad PR machines in the past reporting on their own declining circulation, declining staff and declining revenues. Newspaper offices around the world are full of talented, creative and hardworking individuals who are capable of so much. The business may not look how it did 50 years ago, or even 15 years ago, but very little does. It’s time for newspaper teams to work together to develop new ways they can serve the community, connect individuals to their community and each other, and connect clients to potential customers. Most importantly, newspaper teams can’t forget what they’re best at—telling stories.”—Emily Caswell, County Press