Exciting news in the world of news

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend two days immersed in the world of newspaper at the Michigan Press Association annual convention.

It was invigorating to spend time with professionals who are equally committed to informing the public the old-fashioned way: through publications you can hold in your hands. I felt enlightened after chatting with so many individuals who face similar challenges and triumphs as we do.

I met aspiring journalism students from all across the mitten and editors and publishers from papers ranging in size from small-town weeklies to metropolitan newspapers like the Detroit Free Press — all equally passionate about creating newspapers that fulfill the needs of today’s reader, whatever that means.

In one workshop with “news guru” Kevin Slimp, I learned that despite projections in the late 2000s that newspapers would be “extinct” by 2017, overall, circulation numbers are rising, staffs are growing and revenue is up, and that trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

Slimp, who travels the country working with newspapers of all sizes, explained that he was on the digital-first bandwagon when newspapers seemed to be committing journalistic suicide a decade ago, but as he has continued to facilitate studies, the proof has been in the pudding as data shows newspapers aren’t actually dying — they’re growing.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all newspapers are thriving. We hear at least once a month that another big-name newspaper has made tremendous staff cuts, shifted its focus, or decided to print less frequently.

But Slimp says for the most part, the newspapers that are thriving have one thing in common: They focus on providing hyper-local news to hyper-local regions.

It wasn’t all that surprising to hear that newspaper subscribers want to read about the towns they live in, because that’s the feedback we hear day in and day out at Leader Publications, where, for the most part, your front pages (and much of the inside pages) are filled with content that comes strait from the same city as your publication’s title. We put Dowagiac news in the Dowagiac Daily News, Niles news in the Niles Daily Star and so on and so forth.

It sounds like a simple solution: Give the people what they want. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t constantly working to improve the way in which we give people what we want.

Last year, we made great strides in chasing breaking news, improving the presentation, offering editorial commentary and providing specialized publications that show all our region has to offer. I’m proud to say our efforts were recognized with nine awards — including a first-place win for the 2015 Horizons edition.

With the thrill of success in our minds, our news team has been re-energized to create even better news products for our readers. This year we look to provide more in-depth, investigative reporting, better looking products and new innovative digital supplements to your physical newspaper.

Your newspaper may not look the way it once did, and you may not necessarily access it the same way you did 20 years ago, but I can promise you this: As long as our readers care about the happenings of their hometowns, Leader Publications will continue to work to fill that need.

 

Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com.

 

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