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« Wilkins running | Main | Conservative opposition to Amendment 1 »

Mar 11, 2012

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Mrs.. Miniver

Coming to a city with five colleges and universities and introducing himself with such patronizing hokum seeded with a bunch of sentences starting with conjunctions makes me think he is clueless about the degree to which the N&R's reputation for quality suffers.

Ed Cone

I too could have done with more about the newspaper and less about golly barbecue cookouts and tea I'm in the south now y'all.

It felt like he was introducing himself as the editor of a small-town weekly.

michele

Sweet tea, barbecue, Duke v. Carolina, "hereabouts", "cottoned" and "y'all". Whew! All that's missing are trailers, pickups and NASCAR. Welcome to Greensboro, Mr. Gauger. Please fix the paper. (See Ed's post, above.) And please be nice to Joe and Amanda. I heard a rumor a while back (on this blog?) that they were running the N&R out of their home. If they go, uh oh! ;)

Joe Killian

It's all Amanda and I can do to run our own beats from the office.

The new editor's got a lot to catch up on -- he's been in town a week. He's still learning the names of the staff and the names of the streets. But he's actually listening to the staff and to readers and he's got a lot of good ideas -- especially about how we can improve the website, which he realizes needs help.

He has history with weeklies as well as with dailies. Frankly, I think some of his ideas about how we can act like the size paper we are rather than bemoaning the old days and be more engaged with our readers and their needs are good and sorely needed. He does, as Ed suggests, have to convince some people to make some serious changes.

He may not be from around here -- but sometimes that's good for perspective. He'll acclimate quickly enough. Let's let him get moved in and make some actual moves by which we can appropriately judge him.

In the mean time -- drop the guy a line, offer to go to lunch with him, tell him what you think about the paper. He's listening.

Ed Cone

I don't think anyone's rushing to judge him, just commenting on his first visible attempt at communication, which seemed a bit tone-deaf to at least some readers.

Also: drop the guy a line, tell him what we think? That's exactly what's happening here.

This is just depressing: "I think some of his ideas about how we can act like the size paper we are rather than bemoaning the old days and be more engaged with our readers and their needs are good and sorely needed."

The idea is neither to bemoan the old days nor to settle for a small-time paper, it's to figure out ways to do the job with the resources at hand.

prell

Screw the news. I want more stories about the small businessman in Whitsett who sells bread and daffodils on the side of I-40; or the barber in Stokesdale who lost business to the Great Clips in Oak Ridge.

Joe Killian

Ed:

Doing the job with the resources we have -- which is to say do it smarter, as smaller papers sometimes do, rather than throw up our hands and say we can't do it because you're not as big as we once were -- is what I meant by "act like the size paper we are."

I've thought for some time that we've suffered from thinking the job's just too big and the staff too small rather than committing to do a great job with fewer resources, as my wife's old paper The Cape Cod Times did when she was there, for instance.

Some of that's just shell shock from getting smaller quick, I think. Some of it's all of us being stuck in habits and ideas instilled in us when there were more resources and our not

I spent about a year in the High Point bureau, for instance, when I think it become apparent that the company had long since abandoned the idea of actually covering High Point. The fact that I was the only remaining full time staffer for the main sheet in an office that didn't have a dedicated editor or any photographers should have been a clue where that was headed. There was just this lingering idea that we were going to continue to cover it with too few resources, effort or real interest int he main office because that's what we did when we were bigger. The reporter I followed in High Point was really demoralized by that and things like it and ended up leaving the paper. I hung in there but was a hell of a lot happier when they put me somewhere they could actually use me. I think our coverage was better for that, too.

There are a lot of stories like that.

We also recently stopped having a relatively large compliment of full time Life section reporters and put them on some actual news stories. Given what we've been working with, that may have been a change that was overdue even if it was hard to make.

Smaller papers, papers with the resources we have or who are stretched much thinner than that, even -- often have to decide what's important, decide to do it well and stop missing the phantom limbs of when they were larger. They don't have to give up the idea that they can be good. They have to give up some ideas they're holding on to out of habit that aren't making them good, that are actually making them worse. The paper looking much like it did a decade ago but less so -- that's where that comes from.

You can't do more with less. We ALL hate hearing that. You can only do less with less. But if you're smart about what you choose to do less and where you concentrate your resources, you can still be pretty damned good. I grew up reading some papers that did that -- and they were all smaller than the N&R in circulation and in staff.

As to the drop him a line, go to lunch, tell him what you think thing -- that was more for anybody who might be reading than for you personally.

Although now that I think of it, I don't think it'd be a bad idea for you to drop him an actual line and have lunch or coffee with him to offer your broader views on the paper as a whole in addition to telling him the current web strategy sucks (which I assure you, he knows) on the blog.

All the problems you've stated -- especially Binker leaving, although I'm glad he's staying in journalism -- are real problems. I know he'd like to hear from people personally -- especially the sort of people who read this blog, as many of them are long-time observers of the city and the paper -- on how we can deal with them.

From our perspective in the newsroom -- the new guy's been remarkably honest and open with us so far, is taking things in and wants to be smart about making changes that will help and abandoning habits and working methods that no longer do.

If he wasn't, I just wouldn't say anything.

Hugh

I realize it's the new editor introducing himself but I find the attempt at fraternization via southern colloquialisms a bit condescending.

Billy Jones

As long as you're talking to him, don't forget to tell him I'm tired of picking up the N&R's trash day after day. I don't throw garbage in his neighborhood and expect him not to throw garbage in my neighborhood.

Ed Cone

Joe, your fluency in online discussion is an asset to the N&R. I hope you and the other good folks on Market St get to do the quality work you want to do.

Alvin

Ed sticks his chin out trying to pass himself off as Mr Superior looking down at the paper that fired him, and appropriately enough, takes a solid whack to it from someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

Joe Killian

I hope so too.

A lot of us love the business and want to stay in it for the right reasons.

But the paper's important to the whole community, not just us. I'm hoping they'll take the new editor up on helping him figure out how he can best serve the city.

Joe Killian

Alvin:

The paper didn't fire Ed. He wasn't on staff. He contributed a column and was paid for it on a per-column basis. One of the unfortunate victims of the budget slashing at the paper was the money for our local columnists. No one hated that more than the people at the paper. Ed was asked if he was interested in doing the column for free and declined. Can't blame him.

As someone who read his columns about Greensboro for years before I actually wrote for the paper I think I can safely say I don't know more about what's actually going on with the city and its paper than he does.

From the perspective of someone who works in the newsroom, I'm hopeful the new editor's going to take us in the right direction I'm encouraged by my interactions with him so far.

I think Ed wants the same things the editor wants and what all right-thinking people in Greensboro should want: a strong daily newspaper with a web strategy that makes sense for both readers and the paper's financial bottom line.

Here's hoping we can all figure it out together.

triadwatch

from scott yost in rhino:


"The March 1 commissioners meeting was notable because, for the first time in at least a decade, and probably much longer than that, The Rhinoceros Times was the only media at the meeting.

The News & Record always has a reporter at the regular commissioners meetings, however, at the March 1 meeting, no one from the News & Record was there. The High Point Enterprise also didn't have anyone at the meeting, and television news was a no show despite four or five news vans parked outside covering the John Edwards trial across the street.

That combination of circumstances meant that The Rhinoceros Times had exclusive coverage for the meeting that night."

Pitiful

polifrog

Joe Killian:

Here's hoping we can all figure it out together.


Just curious. Has any local daily found a profitable web strategy? I'd like to wonder over and check one out.

(Not directed just solely to Joe Killian)

Joe Killian

Keith:

That's the first meeting I've missed in quite a while. I was ill.

Did watch the meeting from home. There was a brief out of it, but not enough happened to warrant a next-day story.

JK

Ed Cone

TW, that is truly sad.

Frog, the NYT is having some success with its paywall. Not exactly a small-city daily, but the model has elements that could be copied here.

The N&R's approach seemed dubious from the start. I'll have some stats later this week to show how bad it's been for the brand.

This transition is a hard one, and figuring it out while trying to protect a dwindling old-line business doesn't maker it easier. But whatever the short-term benefits of the N&R strategy in terms of protecting print (and I'm guessing those benefits are minimal at best), the long-term costs of the GPV are high.

As I said in the post, I think the web strategy is fixable. The bigger problem -- funding the original local content that should be the N&R's competitive advantage -- is harder to solve, and may be beyond the capacity of current ownership.

sittinginthemiddle

Watching the N & R finally close it's doors will be a beautiful thing for our fair city. It will probably upset the six Left Wing Nutjobs who still actually subscribe to it, but it will be a triumph for the rest.

Billy Jones

Ed, "The bigger problem -- funding the original local content that should be the N&R's competitive advantage -- is harder to solve, and may be beyond the capacity of current ownership."

You mean without selling garbage to advertisers that no one reads?

David Boyd

Five days to learn to drive to work without GPS? At that rate getting to know us should come off the git 'er done list in about 2025.

Lex

Forget it, Ed. It's Chinatown.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Edward-Cone-of-the-Moses-Cone-Healthcare-Cones lecturing the N&R on how to save the N&R (starting with its website - as opposed to its CONTENT and deeply-seeded, blue-tinted, incestuously-incestuous agendas) is almost funny.

Lex Alexander, former N&R "medical reporter", using a "Chinatown" reference is almost funnier.

Go ahead, ye progressive columnists and reporters. Shoot yet another nasty in my direction. After seven years in this blogosphere, jumping through all your hoops & slogging through all your "well-meaning" advice, tell me again that my story-of-local-corruption in the "non-profit" sector was/is/will always "irrelevant" to the sorry state-of-our-state, or that I'm unjustifiably bitter.

While you're at it, stomp some more on Mike Baron (the Chinatown reference is PRICELESS there).

Tell me how noble you-all are.

I'd ignore the patronizing hokum and chat up the new Editor, but I know it's POINTLESS.

Had good teachers - ONLINE.

I'm with "sittinginthemiddle" (who clearly isn't). Your favorite "brand" needs to DIE.

Many of us will throw a party when it does.

Ed Cone

Mary, I agree that content is the core issue.

I started with the website because, as I wrote, it's "a disaster that might quickly be fixed," while the other stuff will take a while.

Dr. Mary Johnson

" . . . while the other stuff will take a while."

Really, Edward? YA THINK? I came to the blogosphere in February 2005, Ed. The day after my Father died - having not lived to see justice for his daughter. And at the INVITATION of an N&R journalist, no less.

I brought you-all some content that didn't reflect so kindly on the institution that bears your family name (a major N&R advertiser, but hey, TRUTH will prevail over the Cone Healthcare System pulling ads - NOT) . . . or a good many of the progressive politicos you-all slobbered over.

What YOU and your kind did to me ISN'T FUNNY. I've grown OLD waiting on you people to BE RELEVANT.

Meanwhile, over the YEARS, you got to sneer and snark and spit and raise your kids and walk your dog and pal around with cyberstalkers. "Bitter" Mary needed to "get over it".

"A while", you say?

"It's Chinatown", says Lex.

PRICELESS. Do you people EVER look in the mirror?

Ed Cone

For the record, yet again, I tried to interview Mary for a column in the News & Record, but she refused that opportunity.

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