Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Finding Your Weekly's Niche in the News Biz: Stay Connected with the Locals

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Finding Your Weekly's Niche in the News Biz: Stay Connected with the Locals

Article excerpt

Weekly and community newspapers should not fear the growing expansion of national news coverage, 24-hour cable news, and Internet information as long as they continue to focus on their local communities and the needs of local readers, according to the featured speaker at the National Newspaper Association's annual conference in Boston who spoke Sept. 30 during the event's kickoff breakfast.

During a lengthy speech that drew a standing ovation from the crowd of over 300, Tim Waltner, publisher of The Freeman (S.D.) Courier, and vice president of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, told the audience that community newspapers still have a strong hold on local events, but only if they make such coverage their priority.

"Those of us in the weekly field rarely break stories, even in our own community, but that's a good thing," Waltner said. "It reminds us of our mission. Because of our relaxed deadlines, we can take more time to get more perspective - at least we should."

Waltner urged editors and publishers to avoid trying to get the news first and beat daily or regional newspapers. Instead, he said that community papers need to remain connected to readers and make sure small, local issues are covered and that local information - from school menus to wedding announcements - is given attention.

"As community newspapers, we should use that connectedness to write more human stories, more insightful stories, and more accountable stories," Waltner said. "It provides us with insight, understanding, and perspective that is unrivaled in major media. …

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