Ideas

Innovation and Transformation in Community Newspapers

Opening remarks

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    Walter B. Potter Jr.| Benefactor, Veteran journalist, Falls Church, Virginia

    The opening remarks from the 2014 Walter B. Potter Sr. Conference by Randy Picht, executive director of RJI, and Walter B. Potter Jr., veteran journalist and benefactor of the Potter Conferences.

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Saving Community Journalism

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    Penelope Muse Abernathy| Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Penelope Muse Abernathy, a journalism professional with more than 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and media executive, as well as the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, joined conference attendees for a virtual presentation on Friday, Nov. 21. Abernathy specializes in preserving quality journalism by helping the news business succeed economically in the digital media environment.

    Go to Saving Community Journalism

adFreeq

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    Peter Meng| Founder, adFreeq, Columbia, Missouri

    News organizations can expand advertisers’ marketplaces by placing small adPortals on various locations of the news website and Facebook page. When clicked on, the adPortals expand to display an entire inventory of merchandise.

    Go to adFreeq

By the numbers

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    Judd Slivka| Assistant professor of convergence journalism, Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Missouri

    MobileVideoDIY is a new resource for mobile-video journalists and includes coaching on how to shoot, edit, share and monetize mobile video.

    Go to By the numbers

Candidate meet and greet

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    Amanda Layton| Managing editor, Perryville Republic-Monitor, Perryville, Missouri

    Shortly after filing closes we invite all political candidates to a gathering where we do a presentation about newspaper readership and registered voters, basically letting them know that registered voters read newspapers. We present ad pricing to them, and each are assigned an ad representative who makes immediate contact with them. We also inform them of all editorial rules regarding letters to the editor and what candidate happenings will be covered and what won't. We tell them all deadlines for ad and editorial work and inform them of what we need from them to ensure a successful campaign season.

    Go to Candidate meet and greet

Custom book printing

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    Joey Young| Owner and publisher, Kansas Publishing Ventures, Hillsboro, Kansas

    We self-publish books for people all over the state, but we decided to take our connections and create our own book. We have done veterans books in two counties now that have generated a nice buzz with the community and generated some revenue.

    Go to Custom book printing

Digital marketing and newsroom changes

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    Mark Rhoades| President/publisher, Enterprise Publishing Co., Blair, Nebraska

    We added some additional customers through our social, Web and print campaigns that were basically doing nothing with us before. We have also increased our Web ad sales, improved our "WOW" deals (like Groupon) and have sold several sports and community involvement contests. Since the digital rep has joined our staff we’re up to seven paid advertisers at $500 per year, but we have set a goal of 20 before the end of the year.

    Go to Digital marketing and newsroom changes

Fall hunting insert

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    Sharon Vaughn| Publisher, Summersville Beacon, Summersville, Missouri

    At the outset of spring and fall hunting seasons, the Sumersville Beacon publishes a hunting insert that gives relevant hunting information in a friendly, readable format and uses all local photos. Hunters and advertisers alike love the insert.

    Go to Fall hunting insert

Flag in the paper

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    Cathi Utley| General manager, Hermann Advertiser Courier and New Haven Leader, Hermann, Missouri

    Prior to the Fourth of July, we placed a heavy paper American flag in the newspaper. One side has the flag; the other side is filled with sponsor ads. Citizens pull out the flag and hang it in their windows.

    Go to Flag in the paper

Google Consumer Surveys (GCS)

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    Bryan Chester| Strategic communications manager, Columbia Missourian, Columbia, Missouri

    Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) are a paywall alternative/supplement provided by Google. In addition to our membership model, GCS is on pace to provide an additional 15 to 20 percent in advertising revenue the first year.

    Go to Google Consumer Surveys (GCS)

Inner Circle: Recognizing newsroom excellence

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    Christopher Biondi| GateHouse Media News & Interactive division

    Inner Circle is a quarterly GateHouse program that evaluates newsroom performance around key print and digital content strategies. The program began several years ago and sets basic standards for Web posting, photo galleries and new story formats. The program has evolved to include higher-level goals on social media and video production. Inner Circle has helped GateHouse improve print and Web content, and we have seen strong page view increases and referral increases from social media. The program also allows us to work closely with newsrooms on ever-evolving media tactics and strategies.

    Go to Inner Circle: Recognizing newsroom excellence

Jobs.columbiatribune.com

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    Les Borgmeyer| Vice president of sales, Columbia Daily Tribune/Tribune Publishing Company, Columbia, Missouri

    Jobs.columbiatribune.com is our new recruitment newspaper section and website developed to regain dominance in the recruitment category of classifieds. The local site is getting 180,000 to 200,000 views each month. In addition we’re working with our classified sales manager to have national, aggregated ads. Up until now advertisers have only been able to reach local audiences. We are in the process of adding aggregate networks that will reach audiences nationwide.

    Go to Jobs.columbiatribune.com

Joplin Globe original history series

Joplin Globe “Community Conversations” forums

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    Carol Stark| Editor, Joplin Globe, Joplin, Missouri

    For many years The Joplin Globe has organized and produced a series of branded “Community Conversation” forums addressing local issues. The live forums addressed the problem of methamphetamine, educated the public about school construction bonds and hosted numerous candidate forums for city, county and congressional races. This year, the Globe will host a forum aimed at educating the public on the crisis facing many local native species, now endangered because of water quality and other threats.

    Go to Joplin Globe “Community Conversations” forums

Just plain community commitment

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    Sharon Vaughn| Publisher, Summersville Beacon, Summersville, Missouri

    The Beacon does not focus on news around the state, just news that could impact our readers. We have grown remarkably without even trying. Our circulation has grown more than 500 this past year.

    Go to Just plain community commitment

Kansas Hired

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    Bruce Behymer| Leader of the ad staff, The Edge and Harvey County NOW magazine, Newton, Kansas

    KansasHired.com is an employment vertical that matches employers and employees. We are using Kansas Hired as a way to take back job classifieds from employment sites including Monster and CareerBuilder. We have had a lot of success with this in a short amount of time.

    Go to Kansas Hired

Live streaming (sports/other events)

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    Jason Jump| Owner/publisher, Kingman Leader-Courier, Kingman, Kansas

    We are live streaming our high school football games (audio only at this time). This has given us a new revenue stream, and it has given our advertisers a new and exciting option for their advertising budgets.

    Go to Live streaming (sports/other events)

Living Rural reporting road trip

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    Kent Warneke| Editor & Vice President, Norfolk Daily News, Norfolk, Nebraska

    The Norfolk Daily News is shaking things up with all-staff, semi-spontaneous reporting field trips to rural communities surrounding the newspaper’s headquarters in Norfolk, Nebraska, which has a population of 25,000. Almost half of the newspaper's subscribers are from these smaller, rural communities, and it’s been a great way to create buzz among readers. Fourteen newsroom staff members dispatch to 14 different communities all on the same afternoon and are given two hours in that community, from which they must come back with a story, photo or video to share with readers.

    Go to Living Rural reporting road trip

Medallion Hunt

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    Amanda Layton| Managing editor, Perryville Republic-Monitor, Perryville, Missouri

    As part of a treasure hunt, we hide a disk known as the "medallion" on public land or with a public figure once a week during the month of March. Clues to the whereabouts of the disk are printed in ads of those who sponsor the treasure hunt. It's been a tradition for 25 years. Between nine and 12 advertisers sponsor the hunt. Medallion hunters purchase newspapers, locate clues and then set out to find it. The first one to find the medallion is the winner and receives $150. They have to turn the medallion in at the newspaper office.

    Go to Medallion Hunt

Mobile app development

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    Jason Jump| Owner/publisher, Kingman Leader-Courier, Kingman, Kansas

    We are developing a mobile app to promote our county. To do so we’ve partnered with two organizations locally to help provide a revenue stream, which also gets our newspaper into the mobile world. Right now our only official partner is the local chamber of commerce, but the city of Kingman and the county are unofficially on board (no contract signed yet). At this time we’re also pretty confident the recreation commission will get on board.

    Go to Mobile app development

Monthly premium edition

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    Dennis Anderson| Executive editor, Peoria Journal Star, Peoria, Illinois

    In May 2013, we launched a monthly premium magazine known as Extra. Editor & Publisher recognized it as number five on its list of 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. The magazines are planned, written and reported using only staff-generated content. We knew going in that for Extra to be successful, the content and packaging of it must be first-rate. This cannot look like any other regular special section that a newspaper might publish. It has to be unique.

    Go to Monthly premium edition

Native advertising on a shoestring

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    Jaci Smith| Native advertising coordinator, APG Media of Southern Minnesota, Faribault, Minnesota

    Through an institutional fellowship with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, I have been able to create and implement a native advertising program that utilizes existing resources and enriches both the editorial and advertising content of our websites.

    Go to Native advertising on a shoestring

Newspaper street team

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    Adam Gerik| Digital editor, Peoria Journal Star, Peoria, Illinois

    The Peoria area hosts a large music festival each year called Summer Camp. More than 15,000 attendees camp out for a long weekend in the woods. The Journal Star sends photographers and reporters out there for daily coverage and fills our print pages and website with multimedia-rich content. Last year we decided to print and hand out colorful cards with our newspaper name, website, a quick description of what we're producing from the festival and a QR code. These were distributed to all photographers and reporters before they went out. This gave them something to hand to a subject when the inevitable question of "Who are you, again?" came up. We repeated this idea during the state basketball tournament that's hosted in Peoria.

    Go to Newspaper street team

No more boring special sections

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    Peggy Scott| News editor, Leader Publications, Festus, Missouri

    Faced with a calendar full of special sections, Leader Publications decided to replace unexciting stories that the newsroom didn’t want to write anyway with reader-submitted photos and photo contests. The result has been special sections that fly off the shelf.

    Go to No more boring special sections

Odd events on the Web

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    Cathi Utley| General manager, Hermann Advertiser Courier and New Haven Leader, Hermann, Missouri

    The idea is to find sponsors for the “odd” events that happen in our world, including the royal wedding, the election of the new pope or the royal baby watch. A large button is put as a floating note on our website. Once clicked, the reader is taken to Associated Press stories about the event.

    Go to Odd events on the Web

Panther Project

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    Kent Warneke| Editor & Vice President, Norfolk Daily News, Norfolk, Nebraska

    Each August before school starts, we work with a designated liaison from each school building from elementary to high school. We create an individual Web page for each school where they are encouraged to post as much information as they would like: photos, honor rolls, etc. Because it's part of the Daily News website, the resulting traffic is considerably greater than it would be on schools' websites, especially because each week the Daily News publishes a sponsored ad in its print edition highlighting a recent post from one of the schools.

    Go to Panther Project

Partnerships with local nonprofits to grow revenue through special sections

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    Dawn Ferencak| Associate publisher/sales manager, Austin Weekly News/Wednesday Journal Publications, Oak Park, Illinois

    We have partnered with a number of local nonprofits to create custom content in the form of special sections. Our team of editors, photographers, feature writers, sales staff and a project manager work hands on with the client to do what we do best: tell the story of local community. We've created special sections covering topics ranging from mental illness, early childhood social-emotional development, housing crises and opportunities, healthcare, as well as education

    Go to Partnerships with local nonprofits to grow revenue through special sections

Peer pressure is a good thing

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    Peggy Scott| News editor, Leader Publications, Festus, Missouri

    For all the mom-and-pop business owners out there who think they can’t afford newspaper advertising, Leader Publications created a unique partnership through the local chamber of commerce. Instead of selling individual ads directly to businesses, we sell one full page of ads per month to the local chamber on a six-month contract. Chamber members then buy in to the chamber ad space, which has six ads per page and a spot for a featured business. Each of the customers is featured one time during the six-month period. Ads rotate, so each eventually appears at the top of the page, nearest the feature. Customers have the option to change their ads each month.

    Go to Peer pressure is a good thing

Readers drive content and design changes

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    Christopher Biondi| GateHouse Media News & Interactive division

    GateHouse has launched two major research initiatives with Frank N. Magid Associates and Communispace Corp. over the past one-and-a-half years years. The results of those surveys are helping us make major design and content decisions to both our print and Web products. In print, those changes are well under way and are just now being evaluated by reader panels. On the Web we are at the early stages of making changes aimed at driving more hyperlocal engagement and ultimately, revenue.

    Go to Readers drive content and design changes

Seen on the Scene

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    Mark Rhoades| President/publisher, Enterprise Publishing Co., Blair, Nebraska

    The editorial staff has been generating an increase in website traffic with "seen-on-the-scene" photo galleries. They take minimal effort and produce more unique views, which introduce more people to our products. They can be promoted in print and on social media channels as well. This was a simple change in how we cover community events. Instead of shooting just pictures of the event, we turned the cameras on the crowds attending the events. Two of our most popular galleries were our parade galleries from the local festival parade and the county fair parade.

    Go to Seen on the Scene

Social media ninja school

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    Jaci Smith| Native advertising coordinator, APG Media of Southern Minnesota, Faribault, Minnesota

    I created a curriculum of four "belts" of increasing depth of social media training — what to use and how to use it wisely. Most of the classes are self-taught. As each student gets through all four "belts," they earn a paid day off.

    Go to Social media ninja school

Sports sponsorships

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    Les Borgmeyer| Vice president of sales, Columbia Daily Tribune/Tribune Publishing Company, Columbia, Missouri

    We have integrated multiple sports products into sponsorships. When the University of Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Columbia Daily Tribune initiated a number of sports sponsorship packages that included the Missouri Tigers, local area prep schools and professional sports. During the course of the year, the Tribune establishes packages that provide awareness for advertisers to support these teams and personalities. The packages include multiple advertising offerings, tickets for events and contest prizes. Most of the sponsorships include both a newsprint and digital component with multiple package values. These go according to a seasonal plan or can be instituted depending on the major successes of the sports teams or personalities.

    Go to Sports sponsorships

Using survey research to inform local election coverage

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    Scott Swafford| Associate professor and senior city editor, Missouri School of Journalism and Columbia Missourian, Columbia, Missouri

    Using data collected from two surveys of Missouri newspaper readers, the Columbia Missourian tailored its coverage of the November 2014 election to provide the kind of information about election races and issues people say they want, i.e., in-depth coverage of candidates stances on issues and reporting on complex ballot proposals.

    Go to Using survey research to inform local election coverage

Utilizing mailbag (total-market product)

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    Toby Carrig| Editor/publisher, Ste. Genevieve Herald, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

    Before our newspaper was purchased, the paper had a free, weekly, total-market product that basically included inserts from grocery stores and a few other businesses. We have utilized the wrapper we place the inserts in by putting advertising on the exterior (a first that has brought in three ads running three to four weeks) and placing static forms such as subscriptions and yard sales on the interior to help cross promote our weekly newspaper. The passive and inexpensive subscription drive has resulted in dozens of people subscribing to the newspaper.

    Go to Utilizing mailbag (total-market product)

Vive Ste. Genevieve

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    Toby Carrig| Editor/publisher, Ste. Genevieve Herald, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

    Our niche website project has not yet been implemented, but it's being developed for a launch in early 2015. Ste. Genevieve is a tourism town but we get little revenue from industries (wineries, bed-and-breakfasts, etc.) that see their clients as out-of-town people and not those who read our newspaper. We plan to launch a Web product that will include tourism information and do it in a better way than the city's tourism department by offering up-to-date calendars, features and content that will not only let local people know what's going on but also attract an audience outside of Ste. Genevieve.

    Go to Vive Ste. Genevieve

West Side Business Network

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    Dawn Ferencak| Associate publisher/sales manager, Austin Weekly News/Wednesday Journal Publications, Oak Park, Illinois

    We started the Austin Weekly News West Side Business Network because we recognized a strong need to support the business community on Chicago's Greater West Side in terms of community outreach, exposure and networking. What started as an invitation for some local businesswomen and entrepreneurs to meet for breakfast has grown into a strong business network of more than 500 members, with subgroups including West Side Women, West Side Men, West Side Bridge, Austin Weekly News Business Development Group and the West Side Manufacturing Network.

    Go to West Side Business Network