Monday, November 03, 2008

Good luck, Springfield Times

As newspapers contract all over the freaking place, its really nice to hear about a new effort in Oregon. Scott Olson and Craig Murphy, both of whom I used to work with in a previous life at the Montesano Vidette, are kick starting a new newspaper in Springfield:

Having learned that The Springfield Beacon had ceased operations earlier in the year, Olson began thinking about starting up another paper in Springfield. He contacted Craig Murphy, one of his former employees at The Vidette, to see if he would be interested in becoming the editor for a startup paper.

As luck would have it, Murphy and his wife, Julie, were anxious to move back to the Pacific Northwest after spending the last few years in Iowa.

"Once I had Craig on board as my editor, I began putting the other pieces in place for the newspaper," Olson said. "Craig is an excellent journalist and has been highly respected everywhere he has worked.

Newspapers and Springfield are lucky to have two guys like Scott and Craig. They're about as close as you can get to true community journalists. I hope things work out down there.

Few things though:

1. I'm encouraged that Scott and Craig describes their newspaper website as intended to be "utilized and updated on a regular basis." This simply isn't enough. Even daily papers are getting into the online community building business.

Its not enough to provide news, you need to provide space for people to discuss their community as well. Good news, though. The Register-Guard has a handful of blogs, some of which line up directly against what the Springfield Times is trying to do (prep sports, prep football, and Close to Home). While I'm not sure about the blog traffic at the RG, they don't seem to get many comments on the blogs that would compete with the ST.

2. So, while the current web package your running is ok, you'll eventually want to change over to something like wordpress or scoop. Maybe even Drupal. They're all free, and they can easily be adapted into a "news" format.

3. In the same line as #2, turn over a portion of your site to your readers. There's only two of you right now, so it will make the news gathering if not easier, then more interesting.

"Troll the bright waters of the internet"(quote via here). There are likely people blogging in Springfield already. It isn't journalism, but they're talking about their lives, and I've seen some good blogging that would pass for journalism and 40 percent of small papers.

So, get to know your local bloggers, they will probably help you out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a former employee of The Springfield News, I wish Scott and Craig the best. Springfield is a large city that is far different than its neighbor, Eugene, and deserves to have its own voice. I hope you can give the Register-Guard a run for its money and come up with a mix of print and online information that can survive these dark hours in the industry.