Earlier this month, a study by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University caught my eye.
Using new analytical tools, it found that using wire service news and syndicated content helped newspapers build and maintain readership.
That’s counter to the conventional wisdom that local newspapers subscribers don’t want wire service news because they can find it elsewhere.
“Syndicated content is important to grow engagement,” said Edward Malthouse, research director at Northwestern’s Medill Spiegel Research Center and Erastus Otis Haven Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications. “Any story’s a good story if you can get me to read it.”
Some newspapers have dropped their Associated Press and other wire service subscriptions in order to cut costs. I don’t know what they are doing to cover the war; I would guess that some of their readers are unhappy about the lack of coverage.
One question that is bound to arise whenever a war breaks out is “What photos are too gruesome for the front page?” We have already had that conversation about Ukraine.
Like most editors, I am reluctant to show horrific images, particularly if they show harm to children. So the Russian bombing of a maternity hospital was a moment for a crucial conversation. Were the photos too grim, I asked at the afternoon news meeting.
Colleen Keller, our assistant news editor who chooses the wire stories, gave what I thought was a compelling answer: “I think it’s valuable to show the real cost of this war.”
I agreed, and we used the photos. I am afraid that we will have more conversations like this in the coming days. If you see these grim photos in our paper or on our website, you can bet we discussed the news value before we printed them.
Keeping an eye on traffic
If you were headed to Portland, or even toward the river on Monday morning, you likely got caught in a big traffic jam. A wreck on the Oregon side of Interstate 5 backed up traffic to Hazel Dell, and also clogged Interstate 205 more than usual. I took the back way to work, but I am sure many motorists were frustrated.
One of the best ways to “know before you go” is to check out our traffic page, www.columbian.com/traffic. You’ll find a real-time traffic map, traffic alerts, traffic Tweets (if you’re not on Twitter, this is very helpful) and traffic cams. We recently added the county’s cameras to our map, so you can see traffic from dozens of locations along freeways, state highways and major county roads such as Northeast 78th Street. Now if our page could only do something about the price of gas.