I’m one of those people that enjoys reading newspapers. In my area we’ve got three papers that service the area. They are the River Reporter, Sullivan County Democrat, and Times Herald Record. The River Report is published weekly, the Democrat biweekly, and the Record daily. I’ve never really read the Democrat for what ever reason. I buy the River Reporter most weeks and read the Record online.
One thing that always seems to irk me is our town doesn’t get any real good coverage. We only make the “big” newspaper (The Record) for some crime and some governmental news. The River Reporter don’t report much in the way of typical news sure the report on your basic small town news, the government stuff, charity groups, and the never ending slew of articles about the environment and keeping our area natural, yadda yadda yadda. The Democrat I’ve read a few times and doesn’t seem much different then the River Reporter.
I like to know what’s going on locally, even more so than I care about what’s on the national and world news. Yet lots of stuff seems to be slip past the local paper and is to small for the big paper. We don’t even have a police blotter in the local paper. More than a few times I’ve seen car accidents and want to know more about what happened but the papers have no information. Bigger towns have police blotters and send reporters out to the scene of accidents. There’s been more than a few times people in this town have been left in the dark due to lack of news coverage.
I probably should say that I briefly worked for the River Reporter and have an inside look at the way it works. The biggest problem I think is that it’s on a small budget and the job is only 9-5. Bigger newspapers have reporters in the office all the time and someone listening to the scanners. In some sense you cannot really blame the newspaper as they’ve got small budget to work with because they have a small audience.
When you look at the 2 smaller newspapers websites versus the bigger newspaper’s website. The difference is night and day. Both the smaller sites have had the same look since I can remember. Both have crappy archive features and search functions neither even implement RSS. What I’ve always wondered is why not use some social media to promote the paper more? Perhaps start a YouTube channel for locals to upload videos of events, have a forum for locals to chat on, start a MySpace, have a form for people to submit story tips to. I’ve always wondered why that’s now done. I suspect it’s lack of technical & social networking knowledge but even the most technophobic person has to realize how much money can be made on the web.