APME Newsroom Summit

On October 12th and 13th, approximately 120 people, including APME members and journalism students, met for A Newsroom Summit: Journalism that Matters.  Participants discussed keeping journalism vital for themselves and the people they serve.  On Saturday, the people in the room created the agenda for these conversations, guided by their passions and interests:

  • Think Big, Even If Small
  • Ordinary People
  • Life, Zest and Personality
  • Inclusion
  • Re-establishing neighborhood connections
  • Coming Down From the Ivory Tower
  • Local News as a State of Mind
  • Capturing New Young Readers
  • Getting Context into Stories
  • Open Minds, Open Newsrooms
  • Understanding Islam

The reaction among participants was powerful.  More than one said, “I got more ideas out of this morning than out of the rest of the conference.”  Many said this was conference’s highlight for them.

This is the beginning of a national conversation about the future of journalism.  APME hopes to work with other journalism organizations to convene similar sessions around the country, inviting journalists and others to create the future they want by exploring journalism that matters.

The stories from these first conversations are in the session notes tab.

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Closing Comments

Each participant was asked to write a word or phrase about what they were taking away from the Newsroom Summit.  Some of their comments follow.

*      Every person in the community has a voice: in order to improve the quality of journalism in the future, every voice must be heard – the diversity of ideas will create the paper of tomorrow

*      Throw the dart

*      Encouraged by the teens here today – their intelligence and thoughtfulness

*      Readers  <——-> Content

*      I have a lot to look forward to

*      Advice from experienced people in the world of journalism. Thank you! (Christine, Senior Pius XI High School)

*      Fusion, inclusion

*      Think outside the box. Relevance. Reader service. Have a passion for what we do

*      Let’s be interesting every day. One of the best things anyone can say about a newspaper is that it is interesting

*      Involvement

*      Tell better stories in a way that will capture the attention of young readers & feature their young voices throughout the paper. (Terry)

*      Powerful stories behind our stories

*      Re-think international news coverage and local connections

*      Think in new ways. More is possible than you think when you think

*      Ordinary people are so important

*      New voices in the paper and in the newsroom – as a routine – especially Gen Y

*      Be open. To ideas, people, opportunities, places and perspectives

*      Re-igniting with the passion and courage to do journalism that matters

*      Keeping the free press free

*      Write for the reader

*      Make an effort to let readers know how we make decisions. Remember that every reader is a unique person whose perception of the world might be vastly different from your own

*      Let our passion about journalism emerge in our stories

*      It is our obligation to build momentum

*      Sustain the passion….through communication–Don’t assume

*      Commitment

*      Steam clean the engine

*      Relevancy and writing

*      The task of resolving contradictory desires

*      I’m reminded: The potential for transforming news and newsrooms is unbounded. I am left wondering is the will to transform news & newsrooms equal to the opportunity.  (Cole)

*      Break from reality brings new appreciation for reality. (Bob)

*      Remember the ordinary people

*      Get into our readers’ lives

*      Journalism is not static

*      Give everyone a voice

*      Opportunity for redemption as an industry and profession

*      Find new ways to bring the world home

*      Ensure buy-in

*      I’m responsible for changing and improving my newsroom culture

*      Go home and motivate, inspire and follow through

*      In-paper promotions in sports, comics section

*      Reject conformity, buck ritual

*      Readers need to see the human side of journalism and journalists

*      Opportunity to connect with readers has never been better

*      Understand the base of knowledge. Write across the generations.

*      Responsibility

*      I am the future of journalism! But is vital that I learn and respect the past and work on my skills in the present.

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Understanding Islam

Moderator: Bob Peck, Publisher, The Riverton (Wyo.) Ranger

Reporter: Chris Peck, for the group

Conversation participants

  • Dawn Garcia, Knight Fellowship Program, Stanford University
  • Joe Foote, Director, College of Public Programs in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunication, Arizona State University
  • Will Promis, student, Marquette University
  • Chris Peck, Editor, The Spokesman-Review and president, APME.

Key issues raised and discussed

How do we understand Islam? What can newspapers do to inform their readers, and how can reporters and editors themselves become informed?

In America, we have a difficult time walking in the shoes or understanding the perspective of people in other parts of the world.

Patriotism makes it hard, sometimes, to examine why others might resent America and the American way of life.

Telling the story of Islam through real people will be important for the media.

Finding Americans who are Muslim would be a great way to begin to help others understand Islam.

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Open Minds, Open Newsrooms

Convener: Cole Campbell

Note taker: Phil Haslanger


  • Tom Baden, Harrisburg, PA
  • Carol Hunter, Green Bay, WI
  • Ken Sands, Spokane, WA
  • Phil Haslanger, Madison, WI
  • Lance Johnson, New London, CT
  • Phil Elliott, Athens, OH
  • Cole Campbell
  • Suki Dardarian, Seattle,WA
  • Peggy Kuhr, Spokane, WA
  • Sara Merar (student), Mequon, WI


Cole began by observing that newsrooms are often closed cultures. He wondered how to create a culture that would welcome new ideas and insights and how to think of readers as partners instead of clients.

Lance rephrased that as how to give readers the info they need to live their lives. He also asked how to get rid of the cynicism while keeping the skepticism. What will be the mechanism that will allow new ideas to breathe?

Sara said that she needs a place to feel safe to offer new ideas, small groups rather than large meetings.

Phil Elliott talked about being able to try things that might fail and then learn from them.

Sara suggested getting new voices into the newsroom, perhaps pairing students with online editors for shadowing experiences. Phil added extending that offer to community members.  Lance talked about the use of readers’ panels and inviting the public to sit in on news meetings.

Suki asked why we don’t solicit ideas from readers more often and Peggy observed that readers often pose the clearest questions.

Ken used the model of a triangular relationship among the newspaper, the readers and the community, with all the communication moving two-ways through each leg of the triangle. Cole asked about bringing readers into the newsroom to talk about the community.  Suki suggested asking the staff for ideas on how to better connect with the readers and the community. Phil Elliott described sending reporters out to neighborhoods where they had not been before with the assignment to visit new places, talk to new people and come up with new story ideas.

Two last thoughts from Cole:

1) Getting out into the world is good. How do we let the world get into us?

2)  We shouldn’t cover the news; we should discover the news.

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Getting Context into Stories

Convener and note taker: Melinda Voss


We discussed obstacles to getting context into news stories. These include:

* We don’t remind ourselves enough that we need to put it in.

* Reporters get tunnel vision about a story and don’t think to put it in.

* Beat reporters forget to add background for stories they cover over and over.

* Sometimes, we don’t have enough time to put it in.

* Sometimes, we don’t have space to put it in.

* Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine exactly what and how much context we should provide. How do we know exactly what context readers need? Especially since newspaper readers include everyone from a 15-year-old (that we’re trying to get more of) to 75 year olds, from people who know nothing about the subject to folks who know a lot.

* Sometimes, reporters don’t have enough training or background information to know what context to put in.

We discussed ways to overcome the obstacles. These include:

* Break out background and context-type information in a separate story, perhaps a boxed insert, an overview box, whatever you want to call it.

* Have some standard graphs written that should always be included in ongoing stories. At the Des Moines Register, we used to call this “A “matter. One participant said every story in his newspaper about the economic problems with Boeing include a sentence that says Boeing is the largest employer in the xcxcxcx area. Some participants said they weren’t sure this was such a good idea. Could lead readers to quit reading once they hit the A matter thinking there is nothing new after that. A way to get around this is to work in the key points in different ways in each story.

* Use positive reinforcement to encourage reporters and editors to include it in stories.

* Talk to reporters and editors when it’s not in stories to find out why.

* Find ways to help reporters and editors include context in stories.  One suggestion: If you have an ongoing topic in your community, such as urban sprawl. Invite a local historian/expert on that topic in for a brown bag to give the staff a quick course in it so they have a stronger background in the subject.

* Be rigorous about giving context when reporting on numbers. For example, don’t just report percentages, but percentages of what number.  Don’t just say $2 million increase, but from what to what.

* Provide training for reporters so they know what context to include.

If anyone else has more thoughts about this topic, I’d love to hear from them. I think I may try to write a piece for AJR or CJR or some such publication on this topic. (vossx017@tc.umn.edu)

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Capturing New Young Readers

Convener: George Stanley

Note taker: Bobbie Jo Buel


We had a large group and I didn’t write down full names, but participants included six young people and nine editors.


* What is it going to take you get you and your peers to be readers for the rest of your lives? How do we get beyond producing teen sections? How do we get younger voices in stories and how do we write stories that matter to them?

* One editor who works with teens says newspapers have to be prepared for high turnover and be ready to constantly replenish the group. Teens are busy and drop out. They lose interest. They graduate.

* Young reader: Kids are more inclined to read stories with local perspectives. They want a story to explain how this news matters to them.

* Young reader: Newspapers need to publish more teen names and names of high schools. Kids are like adults – they want to read about people and places they know.

* Young reader: When you interview teens, remember that they say different things to adults than they do to other teens. Kids are afraid sometimes to be open to adults because they think they are being judged.

* Young reader: That doesn’t mean you should ignore anyone in your reporting. You need to interview parents, kids and school officials.  You need to talk to all of them, but kids are often left out. She suggests using instant messaging and cell phones to reach kids to get their point of view.

* Young reader: Don’t jump to the conclusion that young people think alike. At my college the students come from all over. I see a wide diversity of opinion that often depends on where they’re from.

* Young reader: I’m keeping an online diary for an English class. I went to the student union and listened to what people around me were saying about the terrorist attacks. This was literally eavesdropping to know what people were saying to friends. My teacher said my diary was powerful.

* Young reader: Consider publishing columns and letters in which teens speak to teens. Why are advice columns for teens written by adults? Offer another perspective.

* One editor asks, “What news stories do you want to read right now?”

* Young reader: A lot of my friends are worried about whether there will be a draft. I know young men who say they won’t serve. Others say they are scared but would do it out of moral obligation.

* Young reader: I know a lot of kids who think war is not the answer.

* What do kids think is the answer?

* Two young readers: They don’t know. We’ve never been faced with this situation before.

* Young reader: We’ve never lived in an America where anything went really wrong. We’ve never seen a recession or a war.

* Young reader: Kids want their news in more than a sound bite right now. They want explanations.

* Editor suggests that archived explanatory stories be kept on the web site with regular listings of links in the print edition.

* Young reader: In my government class we’re still talking about how to elect a president. The schools need to change what they are talking about. Kids want to talk about what’s happening in the world right now, but my school isn’t doing that with us.

* Young reader: Kids have access to a lot of information but they don’t understand it. They know we’re against the Taliban, but they do not know what it is.

* Editor suggests soliciting a daily question from teens and then printing the answer the next day.

* Another editor asks why kids don’t just go out on the Internet and find out what the Taliban is.

* Young reader: We don’t have time. We go to school, we work, we have homework, we have friends.

* Editor wonders whether the beginning of articles should tell readers  “Here are the questions we are going to answer for you in this story.” Maybe we don’t make it clear enough what you’ll learn if you read all the way to end of this story.

* Young reader: And you have to use more photos, headlines and graphics to draw readers in. We are a visual generation.

* Young reader: When I do homework, I don’t read the entire text. I  look for the answers. I look for keywords and boldface type in the text that guides me to the answer.

* Editors asks whether teens look for writing with an attitude.

* Young reader: What you need to do is write more stories and not so many articles. I look for stories that are interesting to read. The other stuff is information and doesn’t need to be put into a story.  Maybe put it into a list.

* An editor asks how to get papers into the hands of busy students.  Should we give papers to your history teachers to use in the classroom?

* Young reader: In elementary and middle school, current events were drilled into us as part of classwork. That doesn’t happen as much in high school.

* Young readers: Some said their teachers didn’t talk about the attacks at all on Sept. 11. Others said it was discussed all day. Why did schools handle it in different ways? How should they handle shocking news?

* An editor asks whether they perceive the newspaper as “trying to make up your mind for you.”

* Young reader: Yes, you do that in some stories where an adult is writing from an adult perspective. I finish some stories and say to myself, “That is so wrong. That’s not how I view it.” You need to write more stories from the perspective of young adults.


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Local News as a State of Mind

Convener: Tom Warhover, Columbia Missourian/University of Missouri

Note taker:  Cole Campbell

Dramatis Personae

  • Tom Warhover, Columbia Missourian/University of Missouri
  • Cole Campbell, Kettering Foundation
  • Jim Lee, Carroll County Times (Maryland)
  • Frank Fellone, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
  • Chris Peck, Spokane Spokesman-Review (Washington)
  • Rick Rassmann, The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)


Our conversation is replicated below in sequence but also in paraphrase.

Tom Warhover: The premise: Attack coverage has taken a story with international, national and local dimensions and treated it as a whole, unified story — not one divided by geography. Meanwhile, the Spokesman-Review publishes a page, “Connections,” that ties news from around the world to Spokane and its region. The Colombia Missourian online site has readers from all over the nation, who maintain ties to Columbia or the University of Missouri. Can we find ways to cover local news as a state of mind rather than a state of geography alone? Is a story local because of its local accessibility? Local impact? Local ties/participants?

Chris Peck: If we don’t use geography, what is the organizing principle?  Issues?

Rick Rassmann: We often “localize” by losing a few paragraphs deep in a sea of type in a wire story. Jim Lee: “Localization” is often slapdash.

Chris Peck: Maybe you could appoint a person whose job it is to identify the overlay (global for a local story; local for a global one) to unfolding news. What preparation or training would give this person the worldly wisdom or perspective to do such a job?

Tom Warhover: Is there a template we could create to get beyond the two “people in the street” interviews.

Rich: Isn’t this what a good line editor would do anyway?

Cole Campbell: We cited exceptional journalism, appointing a specialist, devising a template, and “just good journalism” — can’t we get a more inventive conversation going?

Chris: We need to stair-step new ideas up as we keep getting the paper out. A person with a new job can add spice to the sausage as we produce it.

Rich: You have to know your readers to get past “spinach” journalism that you should consume because it’s good for you.

Chris: Editors and newspapers got way out of synch with where readers live. But now that we’re in synch, editors and newspapers have to help readers see beyond the horizon. It’s a matter of quality of thought — where do I get that?

Tom: We may need to do the same story in four forms to get all the textures.

Jim: We can’t force-feed readers news coverage. They don’t care about a lot of topics in the news.

Cole: They don’t care about the WAY we cover a lot of topics in the news.

Chris: Can we introduce topics in a subtler way? Will we overdose on Afghanistan and then abruptly drop it? To change radically will require some crash-and-burn experiences.

Cole: We’re already crashing and burning in the eyes of many readers and former readers. How do we keep our individual newsrooms from crashing and burning?

Chris: Set aside Sept. 11 for a moment. What might we do differently with beat reporters?

Cole: Take cops and court coverage. Why not make it about the universal human drama and the social tensions underlying it — family protection, equal justice, etc. — that inform all the prime-time television dramatic programming built around the civil and criminal justice systems? Why limit so much of our coverage to dull recitations of “facts” and “events” down at the cop shop or the courthouse? Why can’t all our cops and courts coverage capture the universal elements in the particular crimes and cases we cover?

Chris: How do we make such changes palatable to newsroom cultures? 1. Start with one rewrite person to pick two or three stories of the day and look for the larger cultural context, the global/local angles. 2. Give people templates that help them grasp the deeper dimensions of news.

Frank Fellone: The editor needs to communicate every day the newspaper’s virtues, not just its values.

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Coming Down From the Ivory Tower

Convener and note taker: Rick Hall, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


  • Chris Muldron
  • Tom Warhaver

General ideas discussed

Our discussion turned out to be sort of a follow-up to an earlier session on “getting to know your neighbor” or connecting with the community. Much, of course, has been written and discussed about these general ideas. So, while we broke little (if any) new ground, we sort of ping-ponged our way into some small-but-specific things we ought to consider in our newsrooms.

*  We sometimes act like we know more than we do; the public doesn’t like that.

*  We reinforce the perception of being detached when we report only the extreme sides of an issue.

*  The daily newsroom budget is our most-used tool. So we need to do change how we use that budget. Make it a took to reflect what we want in our coverage.

*  Online ‘hits,’ while not necessarily an accurate measurement of what connects with readers, is at least one indication. They can serve as a wake-up call for reporters and editors.

*  Our industry has talked of many ways to connect with and engage readers.  We simply need to move forward and practice those principles.

*  Management needs to create buy-in for the principles and then provide resources (most often simply ‘time’) to accomplish them.  Buy-in is most important at the assignment editor or line editor level.

*  Photographers are seemingly well connected to the community because they must leave the newsroom to do their jobs. Reporters should do as well.

*  Business editors would do well to develop relationship with the ad sales folks not to be unduly influenced, but because ad sales folks are well connected to a certain part of the community.

*  Explain, explain, explain what we do, why we do it, etc.

*  We need to be willing take the criticism.

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Re-establishing Neighborhood Connections

Convener and note taker: Laura Sellers-Earl


  • Rosemary Goudreau
  • Dave Heun
  • Rick Hall
  • Ken Sands
  • Dave Hennigan
  • Stephen Silha
  • Caesar Andrews
  • Kristin Gilger


We started off questioning Ken Sands about the Spokesman Review program where the paper pops for pizza to gets groups to talk about issues. Ken says they had no idea if the first pizza party was going to work, “you just have to jump off.”

They used the guilt factor to get group leaders to turn in reports on a special form – it’s free pizza, you better do something. He says you need a specific topic and advised Rick to state in the story announcing the offer that interest groups need not apply to keep those from taking over a discussion.

The paper’s role was to provide the ideas and hand out the pizza coupons. A trade might be possible, but the Spokesman didn’t use trades.

“Every time we interact, I’m amazed by the volume and diversity of opinion that comes out,” Ken says.

Neal Pierce is a specialist in local government who can be called in (for a price) to help determine status of situation (citystate.com)

Rick Hall gave a thumbs up to ‘civic mapping. “It’s wonderful.” Gumshoe journalism. You can find out what’s really bothering the people, but he has a frustration with how much time it takes.

Dave Heun recalled one editor at the convention saying that he’d send reporters out and not allow them back in the building until they had story ideas. Rick then suggested maybe we schedule days, telling reporters, “This is your day to hang out,” in the city and gather story ideas.

Dave said the way to really get to know your neighbors is to hold a progressive wine party. By the seventh house, you’re the best of friends. He then stated that right now, his marketing people want to turn everything into a contest.

Stephen Silha proposed inviting people to come up with solutions to bioterrorism. “Our systems are not adequate. Appeal to their patriotism and that home-based solutions have always been what works.”

Caesar Andrews added that even as readers feel powerless they feel emboldened.

We have a role, especially if you think about the newspaper being the tie that binds. We should be reaching out, engaging, giving that emboldenedness a focus.

Rick wondered if the neighborhood groups could be structured like a neighborhood watch, looking out for each other. The paper does belong to the community.

Rosemary Goudreau points out that Ken has been doodling, which he then shares with the group. It seemed to represent what we were trying to create.

Normal mode of communicating is from the newspaper down. How do you help readers communicate with the community, the community with the newspapers or to the readers?

Steve felt it was important to bring this up with the other departments of the paper. Own it together.

It was noted that the shape resembled a pizza slice and Ken said that slice helps the readers connect with the community, but it might be a different way and connection in each community.

A lot of times, readers are amazed you want to listen and urge the Spokesman to ‘keep asking questions.’

Caesar Andrews noted that we must translate this to the newsroom.

Ken said that newsrooms see the pizza as a tacky ploy.  They’ll buy in if you figure out ways to make their jobs easier and more effective. For example, Ken polled his people in his e-mail database the day of the attacks for an afternoon edition. It was a man on the street story that nobody had to do.

Ken mentioned they have a Golden Pen award for a letter of the week and letter of the month. Winners then gather for dinner with the publisher once a year. Each winner gets a gold pen when they win. Side note: You can get a pen also if you subscribe to the paper.

Caesar: I can remember having a reader advisory group and it was great, and then it ended. How do you gauge success and how do you sustain it?

I said my measure of success would be when the city council was packed with my city’s neighbors who were informed about the issues.

Rick said he saw a model in the Madison paper and their tangible results in school test scores.

Ken said “We piss off people one at a time. The converse of that is enlighten people one at a time.”

Civic journalism gives readers a familiar face when the newspaper interacts with the community.

Steve said for reporters, ideas such as this are like an add-on to an already full schedule. They’re just overwhelmed by civic journalism.

Ken suggested that newspapers try civic journalism for the first time at elections. Most reporters agree election coverage stinks. Make it a hiring process where the paper enables people of the community to do the hiring.

Steve: Why not do it for people getting driver’s licenses or go through the building permit process? How are things working in our basic systems?

Kristin: People experience government different than we report.

Steve: Show people that what they experience is part of the process.

Caesar: These are all great ideas, some require a re-ordering. We all have different resources. Are we equipped? How do you push it? There are training and mindset issues.

Laura: What about instead of giving each reporter a day or days to reconnect, what if we say, go down to the coffee shop for a couple of hours and either interact with those there or simply soak in what they are saying.

Kristin: I agree but would send them to divorce court. I think what they’d hear in the coffee house is things we already know.

Laura: But those are the things that are important to our readers, the ones we may know but not put in print.  There may be an opportunity to get an angle into that coverage we hadn’t considered before.

Ken: Even better, go someplace you’ve never been before that is uncomfortable. Gets to issues of diversity.

Rick: As managers, we need to focus on newsroom buy-in. We’re baby-stepping.

Ken: Maybe we can get reporters out by saying ‘spend your extra time out on the streets, not on 10″ stories. Produce three covers a week instead.

Dave: A good portion of our readers are skimming government information but have master’s degree level knowledge of Cub Scouts. That’s valuable. He has a page called Front Porch for whatever people send them. Of course, it eats into news hole, and they are considering putting it online.

Rosemary: I don’t think we’re going to places where government intersects with people. For instance, she recalls seeing on the marriage application a question asking if the couple was related. There’s a story there that relations might think they can wed. What about traffic court. These places and the people working them could be a regular feature.

Ken: The Spokesman has a zoned section in north Idaho for the readers, by the readers. Generate content from the community. When there’s a new issue, they go to the people in favor and ask them to tell why in their own words; then the go to the opposition with the same request. Then send e-mails to others in the community asking for comment, generating letters.

Another idea is feature obits.

Kristin: We call ours A Life Remembered and one reporter does three a week, making sure to draw from a wide range of people.

Ken: There’s reporter resistance, claiming at best they might be able to get a few inches out of it. Then they come back with 20-30 inches and it’s a great story and immensely popular with reporters and readers.

Kristin: It gets people into homes and lives

Ken: We also ask if you know of someone who would make a good tribute, let us know. Even had one woman wonder whether she had ever done anything to make others nominate her and that maybe she’d better start doing some good.

Caesar thought we should pay attention to the complexity of those people, not just saying the good stuff, but dealing with the all with tact. He thought it was Mike Smith that said some of these features make people angry that they didn’t know about this person before they died. So how can we find them?

Rosemary has a column called Dart, where a reporter physically throws a dart at the phone book and does a story about someone at the household where it lands. This runs weekly and is wildly popular. This columnist is known all over town.  A guy in Lewiston, Idaho, has been using this concept for 15 years, with great success.

Rick has a reporter named Kathy Free who has a column called Free Lunch. She lunches with a person selected from submitted e-mails and writes about it. Rosemary wondered if that type of column lacked the necessary tension to make it successful, but Rick says it works for his paper.

Steve wondered how to get at the people in the community who are doing the real thinking, not the usual suspects. Rosemary said we should ask our readers who’s pushing the edge.

Dave’s paper looks at prolific letter writers and Ken’s paper has profiled one of its regulars.

Kristin’s paper had a millennium feature about the people who decide things that impact our lives, that we don’t know: The person who decides which cactus can stay or go; person who orders the books for the library; person who places the red lights in intersections; person who brings in the concerts.

Steve: We should ask our readers, “Are we asking the right questions?” Ken has tried something similar to that with no response. The group felt you had to be specific, for instance, ” What questions would you ask about bioterrorism?”

Rosemary has an Ask a Stupid Question feature with questions such as “Why is the bald man’s head sitting in the pew in front of me at church shiny?”

Kristin: There’s is called Valley 101 and is written by a humorous writer. Questions like “Why do they call it a jumping cholla; Is it dangerous for my dog to drink from the swimming pool?”  Humor plays a role. We need to remember to be human.

Steve: What can we do to delight readers? Be more human.

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Convener: George Benge

Note taker:  Doug Floyd


  • George Benge
  • Doug Floyd
  • Bobbie Jo Buel
  • Mark Heleniak
  • Kristin Gilger


Mainstream newspapers are structured to overlook issues of diversity in our communities — middle-class reporters and editors collecting news for middle-class readers.  In so doing, we miss the niche audiences that specialized newspapers and many radio stations target.  Maybe our journalism is driven by mass-appeal marketing values.

To be inclusive, we want to reach out to new audiences while holding on to our traditional readership base.  That means assertively looking for a wider mix of faces and voices in our reporting.  (Buel says her paper offers a cash prize to the reporters who do the best job of reflecting diversity in their stories.)

Reporting on minority communities requires building bridges of trust,  which takes time and effort.  It also takes understanding of cultural differences in the way individuals acquire and hold power, in the expectations of newspapers.

As demographics shift, we realize that inclusion is a forward-looking business investment — in terms of both content and staffing.  As with other policy decisions, it’s critical to get reporters to value diversity.  It’s counterproductive to hire minority reporters and then undermine the diversity they bring to the newsroom by trying to make them think and act like everyone else.  Alert editors will recognize that sometimes rules and policies interfere with inclusion and it may be necessary to amend or eliminate those rules and policies.

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