Not going to take closing of paper lying down, Denver journalists start website

From the NY Times, Dec. 22, 2008
In Denver, a Web Site Tries to Save a Newspaper
By DAN FROSCH
DENVER — On Dec. 13, a group of staff members from The Rocky Mountain News gathered at the downtown Denver Press Club and agreed that they would no longer stand idle as their beloved paper careened closer and closer to a dire fate.

And they decided to use the Internet — widely credited with hastening the demise of newspapers — to get the job done.

The paper, known informally as The Rocky, had recently been put up for sale, with the distinct possibility it could close next year. The group of about 30 met for two hours trying to figure out how they could save one of Colorado’s oldest businesses, which has been churning out news here since before the Civil War. “The overall attitude at the meeting was that they weren’t going to sit around and do nothing,” said David Milstead, the paper’s finance editor.

In what staff members said was possibly the first effort of its kind, they decided to start a Web site, iwantmyrocky.com, so that readers could voice their support for the paper and The Rocky’s own employees could publicly make the case for its survival. Continue reading

Comfort, newspapers and electronic reading

NOTE: This post is written in an attempt to draw out factors that make electronic reading more comfortable and accessible. We welcome your comments to further this conversation.

Comfort has always been a primary element in my reading. I no longer read paperbacks, unless they’re the larger-sized “trade paperbacks,” as the tiny print and packed pages are not comfortable to read.

But now, sustainablility — the ability to continue to do something in a way that is protective of all our environment, including our economy — has become as important a consideration as comfort.

So let’s consider the pros and cons of paper vs. electronic news reporting and opinions: Continue reading

Blogs morph journalism

From print to blog, uncomfortable change. Forty years ago, I delivered our weekly neighborhood newspaper. I wanted to be a journalist, but my mom discouraged me, saying it was a rat race. When I looked into graduate school journalism, my state university only offered courses in television journalism. When I lived in NY City, and worked for an insurance annuity company, headlines from corner newsboxes announced the earth-shaking developments of Watergate. Just emerging from my apartment to the street every day was a thrilling adventure as the headlines screamed: EHRLICHMANN AND HALDEMAN RESIGN.

Finally, some 45 years later, after working for trade journals, video production companies, medical labs, publishers and internet marketers, I got my “dream job” as editor of my small-town newspaper.

I covered County Council, School Board, Fire District, and local Plan Review Committee meetings regularly. Our “local” issues are national issues too — immigration arrests, the crisis in public education funding, the environment and water supply, employment and the cost of housing. Not to mention breaking news incidents of eco-terrorism, neo-Nazism and personal rescues. I also reported on local stories that inspire for a lifetime — innovative new businesses, cultural exchanges, highly-renowned music and writing festivals, sustainable farming, and graduation from high school, alternative schools, and trade schools.

When I was lucky enough to get a reporter, we covered sports and more of the above stories. When I didn’t have a reporter, I relied more on community press releases and regional wire services. The Sounder website continues to be plagued by technological glitches and dated postings from spotty archives.

Now, I watch a bit of CNN, and a bit of Fox on TV. Every Friday, I watch Washington Week (a panel of journalists) on PBS. I read the NY Times and the Seattle Times Business Digest online, often after printing the articles out. I regularly read the print version of my community’s newspaper, and that of our two neighboring communities. Whenever I travel, I read the community newspaper.

I began a local, personal blog on Orcas Issues — not print journalism, in that it contains my personal reflections on public and civic matters. The perspective and promise of traditional journalism — to present a comprehensive, accurate, fair view of what’s happening in the world — is conveyed better through good print journalism than through television or internet media. This applies to local, regional, national and international news coverage.

Would we know about the conflicts in the Near East, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan or the conditions at Walter Reed Hospital or the firing of U.S. Attorneys if it weren’t for national and international news coverage?

We need a free press to be a free country. The business model of print journalism supported by advertising needs to advance into a more accessible form than the corner newsstand or even home deliverty, but it also needs to be more comfortable than glued to an electronic computer screen or, heaven forbid, a handheld device with minscule print.

What’s in your briefcase?

Emphasize “brief” when approaching new markets. Like a one-minute “elevator” speech that you use to introduce your work to serendipitous connections on an elevator, your portfolio should be easily accessible.

It should also contain material that you can bring out should a potential buyer want to see more.  I think it’s important to rehearse your approach before going into a store or a meeting, and it’s equally important to phrase your language, even to yourself, in attractive terms. So, don’t say, even to yourself, “I’m making a cold call.” Instead think, “I’m going to tell someone about a really good experience for them, getting to know me and my product.”

And I love to remind myself that, in Italian, that most romantic of modern languages, “work” is translated as “opera.”

I still use the expandable file folder with the book cover for “Fisherman’s Quilt” on the outside of the “briefcase” or portfolio that I greet new contacts with (with which I greet new contacts — I’m no preposition-dangler!)

Here’s what’s in my file:

My business card and tax registration business license in small plastic holders on the inside cover of the file;

sell sheets or one-page synopsis of my book and contact information;

extra book covers sent by the printer, with blurbs printed on the reverse, to leave with store owners for their display purposes;

press releases from publications;

order forms indicating discounts, purchaser information, ISBN number, contact information, delivery dates and amounts due (I leave one with purchaser and take the signed delivery copy with me for accounting);

a copy of my resume and marketing efforts listing websites, radio and cable interviews, newspaper articles, vendor accounts, tradeshow appearances, classes and presentations;

targeted promotional materials such as brochures for quilt shows or book fairs, signs for festival discounts, Amazon comment solicitation letters, individualized store posters;

8 x 11 inch poster for tabletop display during book signings and collapsible book display stands;

a copy of “The Fisherman’s Quilt” and the first volume of Port Gamble Publishing’s Newsletters.

Enjoy the opera!