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Preventing the death of a newspaper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by CarlSpackler, May 21, 2007.

  1. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Active Member

    I'm hoping someone here has some advice on the subject of preventing half of your readers to cancel their subscriptions. Here is the background: Because of a corporate mandate, our press times will now be 10:30 p.m. This is an hour earlier than usual, and two hours earlier on football Fridays. Games don't even finish until 10, and that is the biggest reason this paper even sells. In essence, we are completely screwed. On Saturdays, things get even better with 9:30 p.m. press time. Like I said, we have no choice in this matter, it is a corporate mandate because the printing operation is moving out of house to another location. And they are giving us only two weeks to prepare.

    So the questions I pose are thus:

    -Does anyone have deadlines as ridiculous as this? If so, what do you put into your paper? I honestly would like to know, because all I can do in the meantime is despair.

    -I've suggested that area coaches and ADs write letters of complaint, protest, disgust, etc. in an effort to show how much this alienates our readers. Does anyone know if such a grass-roots campaign has ever worked in journalism history? The cynic in me thinks not, but it is worth a shot.

    - Anybody care to see my resume? If so, please send a PM.
  2. donaugust

    donaugust Member

    Perhaps missing deadline should be a matter of course on Friday night.
  3. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Active Member

    I don't have that flexibility. The reason our time is so early is because they have to print the paper that the press is based at. So if we miss, we get pushed back in line about four hours and people don't get their papers until 10 a.m. the next day or some nonsense. Not that I care, but they are so bottom-line obsessed that such a thing would get me fired. Again, not that I care.
  4. donaugust

    donaugust Member

    Damn ...
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Get in what you can get in by deadline. Hold for nothing. When you get the calls of complaint, forward them to the EE and the publisher.
  6. joe

    joe Active Member

    You're fucked. Get out.
    Run all the football Friday stuff in Sunday's paper. Or, you know, get the fuck out.
  7. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Active Member

    I like Joe's answer the best so far. My name is on this thing everyday. And I don't want my name being a synonym for shit. As much as I can forward all the complaints, that's what people will see it as.
  8. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Missing football scores won't kill your paper. So deep breaths.
    Lots of places have multiple deadlines and without knowing how big the coverage area is or the size of the staff...
    Design a single-page of coverage inside with some kind of refer on the cover that doesn't rely on scores.
    Write a column that can go early, run it with art and if the game gets done in time, stick in a graf with the score. Or just write with XX and then call in the score. Shoot multiple staffed games, the first one that gets done is the lead gamer on the page.
    Have everything else run as a quick hits with a photo and a couple of grafs of what happened. Probably called in.
    Refer everything to the Web and say you have expanded coverage with photo albums from the games.
    Write a Sunday follow, that is also a recap of what happened Friday night.
    Fill the Saturday paper with college football advances and then hope like hell that your college team(s) play the early games. With a 9:30 press start. You'll probably miss 7 and later starts. But everything before that will get in.
    Then fill with NFL advances and for Monday, do a college football recap.
    It isn't the end of the world.
  9. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    Think of this as an opp to plead for more resources. Ask for extra part-time help on the phones Friday and Saturday night -- your freakin' features department has fat that can be trimmed, trust me -- and then follow JayFarrar's plan above.

    And develop a hellacious and ambitious online strategy -- photo gallery, stats, podcasts, chat boards, get in bed with MaxPreps, etc. Hand the plan to the EE and tell him to dig up the resources to make it fly or he's going to lose massive hours answering angry phone calls come September.
  10. jaredk

    jaredk Member

    Have your newspaper's editor and/or publisher tell the schools you most care about that if they want their kids in the paper, they've got to start their games a half-hour earlier. Have the boss explain the paper's deadlines in great detail. They should cite examples of how the newspaper always has been vital to the town's sense of community andl how that sense of community would be fractured without coverage of the single weekly event that brings students, parents, teachers, and alums together.

  11. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Active Member

    Pleading would be necessary, seeing that our primary sports design computer has crashed six times tonight.
  12. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I actually like Joe's advice best.
    Just pack your shit and go. Lots of jobs out there for people with experience.
    But if you chose to stay and if you work in a state that has 7 and 7:30 starts, only staff games that kick at 7 and that are close. Tell the people who call in that they need to do it ASAP.
    Tell your boss that for a fee, I'll even come to your town to tell you how to make it work.
    Idiot papers love to spend money on consultants that cost more than the money they will save from doing what the consultant says.
    Talk about supplementing your income.
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