From the Editor: Changes are coming to your newspaper
When I first took this job back in late October, I had a few ideas for how to improve your community newspaper. Now that we’re into the new year and I feel that I have my feet underneath me a bit, it’s time for me to start implementing some of those changes to this newspaper.
First, keep an eye out for design changes to the Craig Press. I’ve spoken with the design team that does such a great job with our local paper’s design on Wednesdays and Fridays that your eyes see each week. However, I want to spice up the cover a bit and change the general layout. Too often early in my tenure the front page has felt roughly the same, even if the photos and stories change each edition.
I want to include some teaser boxes along the top, giving a preview of stories inside. Without the teaser boxes on the front, it feels to me as though inside stories can get lost or overlooked. There’s some great content inside and I want to highlight it on the front. Not only will the teaser boxes along the top show what content is inside, it will also provide some additional color to the front page, making the paper jump off the newsstand even more next year.
As far as content goes, there will be changes on that front as well.
Gone is the daily police blotter, or “On the Record” as its seen in print. The daily police blotter is far too time consuming from the reporter’s perspective, and takes time away from Capt. Bill Leonard or Police Chief Jerry DeLong with the Craig Police Department. The last thing they need to be doing 3-4 days a week is sitting on the phone with a reporter from the Craig Press answering questions about traffic stops, abandoned cars, and other small infractions.
However, that doesn’t mean crime reports — or roundups — are going away for good. No, on Fridays we’ll run a weekly roundup, probably called Crime Briefs or something along those lines. What that will entail is the top crime reports of the week, summarized in a paragraph or two.
Which leads me into this topic: starting on Jan. 1, the Craig Press will not be publishing names in crime reports unless the staff agrees to follow the perpetrators case all the way through the courts.
An arrest doesn’t mean a person is guilty or innocent, and the fact that someone was arrested on suspicion of a crime in no way means that person is guilty of the crime. Often, suspects are acquitted or the charges are dropped before the case even arrives in court.
In a perfect world, we here at the Craig Press would follow every arrest in the jail report to its final arraignment, then publish the results of those dispositions. That said, we have neither the time nor the resources to follow every case to its conclusion, and it seems fundamentally unfair to publish every arrest without following up with every outcome.
About a month ago, a situation with two subjects helped solidify my decision to personally implement this tactic. I watched one person sit across from me at my desk get very emotional reading what happened with that person’s significant other in the paper, forcing that person to relive that terrible night. In turn, that report in the paper, with the significant other’s name used, leading to coworkers easily identifying the victim in the crime report, leading to some serious emotional and mental trauma for the victim.
Causing emotional and mental harm to a victim in a crime story is not what I ventured into this industry to do. That’s not what we’re going to do here at the Craig Press moving forward. Now, I’m not saying that’s what was done in the past; I’m simply saying we’re changing it up.
This tactic has been used at other publications I’ve been at, and it’s been successful. There’s certainly been pushback on it at those publications, and I definitely understand the pushback, but we’re just not going to use names unless we’re going to pursue the story to the fullest. Readers might not understand this change at first, but stay with us, give us a chance and see how it goes.
Outside of those minor changes, if you have anything you as the reader would like to see to improve our local newspaper, drop me a line via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joshua Carney is the editor of the Craig Daily Press. He can be reached via email at email@example.com, or via phone at 970-875-1790.