Reader-Written Supplement A Success in Utah p. 12

By: Laura Reina Joint-operating agency for the Salt Lake City papers publishing
section aimed at reader involvement and target ad marketing sp.

IN UTAH'S SOUTHERN Davis and Salt Lake counties, a special newspaper supplement, Citizens, is allowing readers to speak out during a time many feel they no longer have a voice.
Citizens is printed by the Newspaper Agency Corporation, which under a joint operating agreement, publishes the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News. The supplement is inserted in the News' Tuesday evening run, and the Wednesday morning Tribune run.
The material is put together by a separate staff under the agency's direction ? the editorial departments of the respective newspapers are not affiliated with the content.
Citizens' creation originally stemmed from advertisers needing to reach their target markets, but it eventually metamorphosized into a forum for local residents to express their opinions, according to the supplement's managing editor Cynthia M. Cook.
Editorial comes directly from the community, usually in the form of letters. "There's a direct relationship between what happens in the community and the letters we receive, and we do get enough letters to support the product," said Cook.
Cook believes the supplement's success stems largely from the area's strong sense of community.
"We try to publish letters reflecting current issues, especially if they're of particular interest to the community. We also take letters which offer a local slant on a global or national issue," said Cook.
The letters carry bylines at the top to give them the appearance of an article or story.
Stories must "read well" to be published, and different viewpoints, as well as reactions to prior stories, are welcome, Cook said.
Content is scrutinized and if the material seems off-center, offensive, reflects a personal agenda, or is sexist or racist, it won't get published, said Cook.
A free writer's guide is available to would-be contributors upon request. The guide includes and overview of Citizens, explains how to submit an article, and suggests topics and article length.
Citizens publishes regular weekly features, as well. These include a syndicated column, a "Citizens on the Street" column, featuring candid reactions to specific questions, a "Community Calendar," including "The Pet of the Week," featuring homelss pets in need of owners, a crossword puzzle and a cartoon.
James Shelledy, editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, thinks Citizens is "a great idea." He said as an insert, he is certain Citizens has increased his paper's readership. "Anything that's read in my paper is an overall plus for the Tribune," Shelledy said.
Citizens hasn't taken away from his volume of letters to the editor, he said.
There are actually four different editions of the supplement produced each week. The editorial content stays the same in each issue, but advertising changes by zones: the Davis county zone and the east, west and south zones of Salt Lake County.
"This is so advertisers can target their focus," explained Laura Vernon, editor.
There is no need for an ad tie-in with the Tribune or the News, and rates are based on zones, explained Cook. Advertisers include mostly neighborhood restaurants, service-orinted companies, appliance and furniture stores, and malls, she said.
As for Citizens' future, Cook believes readership and advertising will increase. She said the supplement is presently read mostly by readers 55 years and older. Citizens is working to draw in the 18-34-year-old crowd by rotating its syndicated columnists and finding a cartoon which will appeal to a younger audience.


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