Steve Bagwell, a member of the Greater Oregon Pro chapter and managing editor of the McMinnville News-Register in McMinnville, Ore., recently published a book called “New Editions: The Northwest’s newspapers as they were, are and will be” with co-author Randy Stapilus. Bagwell recently told SPJ a bit about his book and how Northwest American newspapers are handling their product in the digital age.
SPJ: What inspired you to invest your time in writing this book?
SB: There was nothing else out there like it, even on an individual state level, let alone a Northwest level. And as long-time journalists who had crossed state lines in the region, we felt qualified.
SPJ: What is unique — both good and bad — about newspapers in the Northwest?
SB: I’m not sure there is anything truly unique on either end. But there is lots and lots of color, both current and historical. Northwest journalism is chock full of memorable characters and events. And some of the recent events — the folding of the Post-Intelligencer in Seattle and home-delivery retrenchment of The Oregonian in Portland come immediately to mind — are emblematic of the national state of the industry. They help tell a national story in local terms.
One thing that perhaps marks the Northwest more than most regions is an abundance of very small papers serving very small communities. The region is replete with little fishing, logging, mining and ranching hamlets far enough from a town of any size to support a mom and pop paper. Most other parts of the country are either too desolate or too densely populated for that.
About 20 of these papers, I might add, not only lack any online presence, but also lack any plans for an online presence. They are not engaged in debates about pay walls, Twitter posts and mobile apps, thank you.
SPJ:As an editor at a Northwest newspaper yourself, how did your perspective affect the book?
SB: I’ve spent more than 20 years running newsrooms now, so have gotten a pretty good look at the business side of newspaper operations. I’ve been rubbing shoulders for a long time with counterparts in advertising, circulation, production, accounting and, yes, digital media. I think that gives me insights into traditional journalism, new media journalism and media business operations, the three of which are colliding rather spectacularly right now.
SPJ:When looking at the history of the newspaper business in the Northwest, what patterns did you see between business decisions made back in the day and those made in the Internet age?
SB: Back in the day, content was king. We financed a lot of investigative, enterprise and long-form feature work, even when it involved significant expenses for travel and such. And we had the manpower to afford it, at least at the bigger and/or better papers.
In addition, our journalistic purity rebelled at the thought of front-page ads, front-page wraparounds and the like, let alone themed or — shudder — sponsored content. While we still try to draw lines, we lack both the will and leverage to fend off a lot of revenue producers promoted by other departments these days.
I used to abhor the thought of paid obituaries, for example. But I sure relish the revenue today. And I co-exist much more peacefully with front-page and section-front ads.
Unfortunately, a lot of today’s business decisions involve trimming expenses down to match revenue, and that sometimes seems like a never-ending, perhaps even self-perpetuating, spiral.
Written by Ellen Kobe, Communications Coordinator for the Society of Professional Journalists
Congratulations to Eva Ruth Moravec, who has been named SPJ’s November Volunteer of the Month for her outstanding service to her chapter. In addition to reviving the San Antonio chapter, she is being recognized for raising scholarship money, hosting the Region 8 conference and recruiting broadcast members and freelancers to the board, among other things.
Moravec is a county government reporter for the daily San Antonio Express-News, covering Bexar County government and other local and regional political news. She spent time during the last legislative session working for Hearst’s Austin bureau, and prior to joining the politics team, spent five years on the crime beat, covering breaking, investigative and enterprise news. She’s a regular contributor to several San Antonio Express-News blogs and is a prolific Twitter user with more than 4,000 followers. After her first year at the Express-News, Moravec’s peers selected her to win the annual Phillip True Award for online journalism. Moravec received a bachelor’s of science in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the person to blame for resurrecting San Antonio’s SPJ chapter after several dormant years, and serves as the chapter president and one of three co-producers for the annual Gridiron show, which raises money for SPJ scholarships. View her portfolio on Muckrack.com here: http://muckrack.com/EvaRuth/portfolio
We are pleased and excited to honor Moravec for her commitment to SPJ.
CT.com had this ironic story about a former Hartford Advocate writer who has crafted his own dark and bitter brew: Unemployed Reporter Porter.
Evan Osnos of The New Yorker had this interest post about the patient accumulation of detail that he dubbed “Slow Journalism.”
The New York Times reports that its computer system and employee email have been under siege for four months in a cyber attack traced to China.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the arrests of suspects in a series of burglaries in which a list of people with newspaper vacation holds appears to be how the victims were targeted.
First, you must remember that this is not YouTube.
So says Anne Herbst, a runner-up for the 2012 NPPA Video News Photographer of the Year. Herbst works as a video journalist for The Denver Post. Her work goes online, but it’s beautifully shot and edited.
Herbst spent several years shooting TV news, but she says she has 5 tricks that have helped her be better at shooting for the even more immediate nature of the Web.
1. Your phone is your friend. Herbst says Voice Memo or Voice Recorder can be used to create voice tracks as they come to you, or to record reminders of a great shot you’ll want to be sure to use when you begin editing.
2. Know your weaknesses. “Budget more time for what you’re weakest at,” said Herbst. She knows she’s a fast video editor, so she leaves less time for that and more time for writing and crafting the story.
3. Be organized. Whether it’s making sure your gear is in perfect working order or that you have all the information you need before you head out the door, this is critical.
4. Find a mentor. “Nice critiques don’t help,” Herbst said. She suggests you find someone who will be tough on you when you show him or her your work — constructive, but not afraid to hurt your feelings.
5. Tight shots are your BFF. Herbst suggests you cluster 10-15 tight shots all together when you’re shooting. You can come back to that section of your video in a pinch and much more quickly finish editing on deadline.
Herbst took part in a day-long workshop and webinar called Video Storytelling with the Pros: Creativity on a Deadline, sponsored by NPPA and hosted by Poynter.
Lisa Carricaburu of The Salt Lake Tribune had this interesting profile of Thomas Nast biographer Fiona Deans Halloran, a guest on an upcoming Studio SPJ broadcast.