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Reacting to news

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by miamiheraldchick, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. Picking up on Frank Ridgeway's thread comments about APSE contest-pleasing enterprise taking over when news should win out ........

    We have three good papers competing here. So it's interesting to see who reacts and who doesn't.

    The Palm Beach Post, which does plenty of enterprise, reacts better to news than most.

    The Sun-Sentinel, I've observed, is amazingly reluctant to react.

    Here at the Herald, I'd put us somewhere between those two.

    Discuss ...............
  2. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    Are you sure you want to go there, heraldchick?
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Chick, when I interviewed there, the SE (Paul Anger) looked at my layouts and said, "We're not running an art gallery. We run news photos."

    Then he saw a layout that we actually had caught flak for. It was a two-column b&w shot of an auto racing crewman on fire, played at the bottom of the sports cover. It was UPI's and they didn't move it in color. The SE where I was working approved it, and the next day the big boss told him it was in terrible taste, bad judgment, blah-blah. Anyway, Anger looks at it and says, "You really blew the call on this one. We killed color and ran it four columns as lead art."

    So news judgment is relative, but the way I was indoctrinated in Miami was that you should not hesitate to rip up a page to get in the most provocative stuff as the night wears on. At times I felt like I was either on a tabloid or something out of "The Front Page." I think it pleased readers and stemmed from a desire to do that -- the mantra in the daily sports desk meeting was "What are people going to be talking about?" -- but it also made it a more stimulating work environment as opposed to deciding a plan at 5 p.m. and sticking with it. It's worth noting that some key members of that staff are now at the PB Post.

    I'm not anti-enterprise, I'm against locking in by dusk. We rob the section of the drama of sports when we decide at 5 p.m. that a 7:30 game isn't going to be much and then never change our mind even when we are proved wrong. Because, you know, we worked so damned hard on that feature centerpiece, it would be a heck of shame to rip it up. And what will the contest judges think if we centerpiece a regular-season NBA game?
  4. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    I want to know who does lock in by dusk. I sure know we don't; in fact, we are looked upon with raised eyebrows from all our news executives because we DON'T plan as far ahead as they do.

    We're in a position, with the tabloid, of not being as centerpiece-oriented as broadsheet sections. But they can be accomodated, and therein lies the beauty of doing business in this way. Our centerpiece is likely to be pages 12 and 13 in a 24-page section, where we have a true double-truck. We don't HAVE to tear up our centerpiece to accomodate late news.


    I do wonder, Frank -- and I'm just asking -- if the outlook you detail here doesn't swing too far to the other end of the pendulum.

    Do you get more "excited" than you should with late-breaking news, when it might be something that said centerpiece shouldn't be torn up for?

    I mean, if you've produced a good story of that nature ... THAT should be something people are talking about tomorrow.
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    How many compelling enterprise stories is the staff going to produce in a year? Even a really good staff? What usually happens is that we get caught up in an enterprise quota, and some pretty routine stuff gets centerpieced at the expense of more compelling news. These are not necessarily awful stories -- a couple decades ago, they might have been stretched across the bottom of the cover -- but they aren't being played up because of the wow factor, but in order to stick to format. I don't think playing up average features is more enticing to readers than a great game with great art and a chart that's more than agate-in-a-box. Nothing wrong with having the average feature centerpiece as a fallback, but we ought to look forward to moving it to the bottom of the cover instead of treating it like an inconvenience.
  6. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Somehow, I don't think "average feature" was in Van McKenzie's mind when he wanted 10 ideas.

    In other words, it's a matter of where you set the bar.
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't see Orlando very often. But if they had 365 excellent enterprise pieces a year, I'd be very fucking impressed. Because even The National didn't accomplish that every day.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    They produce many excellent podcats, tho.
  9. Frank sums it up well. The Herald, I am told, used to be more aggressive. And of course you want great enterprise. But you have to ready to throw out the plan and react. Too often these days, that doesn't happen, both here and elsewhere. It doesn't always mean tearing up the page, but I often see news on Page 8 that should have been a small headline on Page 1, but didn't make it because it broke late.
  10. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    That would be hard for the National, since they broke Rule No. 1 of great newspapers --- PUBLISH EVERY DAY.

    World Series ended on a Friday night? Read about it in your Monday National.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    We all know that. Is it really necessary to say that it published six and then five days per week? The point is that they ran "enterprise" every day they published and some were just average features.
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Frank, you keep bringing up Orlando. Like it's some kind of "Gotcha!"

    What I can tell you, every stop he made, he improved that Sports Section. You're banging the wrong drum, there. Take a look at the Orlando section 10 years, ago. No one knew it existed. You think Ed Hinton goes to the Orlando Sentinel from SI if Van wasn't there? Give me a break.

    Regular season NBA games, per your example, are run of the mill. There are 82 of them. 41 at home. Meaning, depending on your timezone, 60+% are on deadline. All the AVERAGE teams make the playoffs. Of course the exceptional happens, but what? Maybe three times a season?

    What I CAN give the reader is something they can't get on five-second highlights or typing "Orlando Magic" into a search engine. That is local or national enterprise.

    The idea breaking news will be read in the morning paper is dead. That ship has sailed. If we break news during the day -- even if it is exclusive -- I post it. Call AP, alert them. Then we go into analysis mode. Three years ago, I would have held it and hoped we had it alone in the morning. I/we will not be thinking like that anymore.

    Adapt and overcome.
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