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Putting readers to work, an interesting read

An interesting read my managing editor pointed out to me last week, but which I forgot to post: To Save Themselves, US Newspapers Put Readers to Work

It’s a look at all the (insert city) mom’s, paws, etc. sites and the user generated comments, photo galleries and blogs proliferating the world of newspaper.coms right now.

I don’t think this is a bad trend at all. In fact, we’re planning to launch a site [crosses fingers] hopefully this week [/fingers crossed] where we do this at the high school level for one of our local schools using content about the school produced by, well, the kids who know it best.

Also, the local editor here is awesome at writing the call outs we feature prominently in our paper and in a prime position on our site when we’re working on stories where we’d like to, to use the “it word,” crowdsource our readers. (So awesome in fact that it’s kind of intimidating when one of us lowly reporters has to do this ourselves. My tactic has pretty much just been to emulate his style when I write them.) Our uses range from the worst intersections for feedback as we write about the county releasing its most dangerous list, to first day of school photos and anecdotes, to personal opinions on college rankings. Sometimes the call outs hit and the story chat takes off, and sometimes the response is lukewarm at best. But, our visitors can plainly see the most important aspect of the endeavor: We want to include them. Their opinions and experiences are not only important but valuable to us in telling the story.

Other than that, we have the salary and property tax databases, and we run photo galleries like there’s no tomorrow. Not to mention the phrase “Get me something for online” is so common place that even when it’s not verbalized, most of the reporters have it ingrained in their head.

I’m kind of at an advantage. I came in just after all the reorganization/while everything was still shaking out. So for me, I’m not encumbered by the way it’s always been or how it used to be. But I will say this, I don’t think most of my co-workers are either, including those who’ve been here for a long, long time. It seems like we’re all trying to do whatever we can to best tell the story of our community. And I can dig that.

Anyway, the article is an interesting look at what Gannett is up to and what could be up its sleeve next.

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