News Leadership 3.0

August 06, 2008

Let’s get local

Former newspaper manager
offers formula for improving
local news coverage

Joe H. Bullard, a former managing editor of The Denver Post, wants to see more local news in the Denver newspapers. Here’s his formula from “Getting local coverage in gear.

“I’d fire a third of the editors and convert another third of them to being reporters and give them a laptop. I’d send all my reporters home with a laptop. I would tell each of them his beat is now a circle with a radius of 12 blocks and the center of the circle is his house. I want to know everything that happens within those 12 blocks.

“I don’t want to see you in the newsroom, unless your editor or I summon you. I will count bylines. If you don’t submit at least one story a day, I will be unhappy. If you go a week without a byline, you will be fired. I will expect you to know how to use a digital camera and I expect you to submit at least one picture a day from your circle.

“Because all the reporters and editors are college graduates and have been making a good living for a good number of years, they all live in upscale portions of the metro area, which will limit the news that gets reported. This is a good thing because it would give me the opportunity to hire blue-collar reporters that care about what goes on in their neighborhoods.

“They would be much more concerned about why their Johnny can’t read and why his classroom has 39 kids, one teacher and no aide. Or why their street never gets swept, nor the snow removed. In short, we would start reporting news that is relevant to my readers.

“What do I do with all this news? Put it on my web site as a zone section.”

Is this an organizing principle for the future? Is your newsroom already doing something like this? Please share your experiences in comments.

(Thanks to Ryan Sholin for the pointer.)



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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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