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Ohio papers to share stories

Ohio is one of those states with lots of cities. I grew up in Akron, which is a respectable size city, but is just one of several in a state of many. There’s Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. And those are only the largest. And they all have a major daily paper, many which aspire to be more than just the local paper of record.

So in a time where state capitol bureau’s are being cut, where getting someone to break the news half a state away isn’t always financially viable and where the locals can probably lend better context to that story anyway… Ohio’s newspapers are taking a step forward.

They’re sharing their stories. Yeah, there’s the AP. But if my reading of the PD’s editor column is right, this goes beyond that.

So the ultimate winner is you because, under this system, you will be able to see the best work written by the best reporters in Ohio’s largest cities in The Plain Dealer or on Cleveland.com. And you’ll be getting it at the same time as the folks in those cities do.

It took a bit of doing because the competitive instinct is in every good journalist’s DNA, and most of us would swallow our notebooks before we’d share what’s in them with another reporter. We’ve spent our professional lives trying to keep other newspapers from getting our good stories. Now, we’re giving them away.

Here’s why:

The way that news from The Plain Dealer and other big papers used to find its way around the state was this: We would report and write our stories, wait until late in the day, and then turn them over to the Associated Press. The AP would then either rewrite them into wire service story format for general consumption; report and write its own stories later; or decide that the news was not of statewide interest and do nothing. If we had a breaking-news story all to ourselves, we would try to keep it away from the wire until the following day. So did everyone else.

That’s not good enough anymore. In fact, I’m not sure it ever was. Competition is a wonderful thing. It keeps everyone sharp. But we don’t compete for readers with the newspapers in Cincinnati or Columbus, except in the most tangential way, and never did.

We almost always break our stories online now as soon as they happen, so they’re not exactly a secret from the other newspapers anyway. So why not give readers all over Ohio the benefit of the best work from each corner of the state?

In today’s world, breaking news is measured in minutes, not days. It’s important that we provide our readers with the best news report we can, as soon as we can, on our Web site and in the best and most current newspaper possible each day.

I’m all for spreading the content and breaking down barriers to good journalism. Kudos to the news orgs for recognizing and addressing that. This is good news for Ohioans.

One Response to “Ohio papers to share stories”

  1. Electric Fishwrap » Blog Archive » Washington papers to share stories, too Says:

    […] Following Ohio’s model, Washington state newspapers are going to share stories in the nebulous future. Right now, we have to call other newspapers to get copies of their stories if it doesn’t run on the AP wire. For instance, I was able to use material from the Kitsap Sun last week for a story on a local superintendent who is looking for work there (see result). […]