Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dayton (Ohio) Daily News

Article excerpt

While many businesses use the phrase "The customer is always right" as a rallying cry, the concept has seldom filtered into the thinking at most newspapers, which traditionally invented and reinvented themselves based on top-down thinking. But when the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News decided to overhaul its operations two years ago, that classic listen-to-your- customers maxim was taken to heart.

Always an investigative powerhouse, the News, a Cox paper, was nonetheless losing readers on the print side, arguably to the Web (with weekday circ in the latest FAS-FAX at about 128,000). So executives decided it was time to reevaluate the paper from top to bottom, based on the Readership Institute's research into rewarding readers' "experiences."

"If you want to make an impact, you have to shoot for revolution, not evolution," says Editor Jeff Bruce. "When we started this process, we challenged our team to create a paper that would put the [current] Dayton Daily News out of business."

The resulting recommendations, based on thousands of reader suggestions and extensive focus groups, narrowed the redesign team's focus to three basic elements. Readers responded that they wanted a paper that "makes me smarter," "gives me something to talk about," and "looks out for my interests. …

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