What will be on front page? American Idol gets the nod
It has been an interesting week here at the paragraph factory, introspective. The editors here meet twice a day at what we call a news huddle to talk about the news of the day locally and in the world. We talk about stories reporters are working ...
It has been an interesting week here at the paragraph factory, introspective.
The editors here meet twice a day at what we call a news huddle to talk about the news of the day locally and in the world. We talk about stories reporters are working on and where they might run in the newspaper.
At the afternoon gathering, we choose stories for the front page, usually five of them. We prefer local and regional stories, but national or international stories can elbow their way out front without too much hassle.
A question we struggled with this week is: What kind of story goes out front?
Should we make room occasionally on the front page for fleeting, unimportant stories that simply touch people's lives, or do we play it safe and put the same sorts of stories out there that newspapers always have?
So, what prompted today's soul searching? American Idol.
Nearly 30 million people watched Carrie Underwood win the much-hyped competition. I was one of them, even though I had never watched any installment of the show before.
When we convened the news huddle Wednesday morning and I asked whether this should be on the front page Thursday, I got a lot of eye rolling followed by silence.
I think one of our goals is to publish stories people want to read.
We run plenty of stories that people should read, ought to read, need to read if they aspire to be informed about their world and equipped to make decisions. We cover plenty of governments, school districts and planning boards - we even review restaurants so you can make smart choices about where to spend your money. We're always going to do these stories.
Our reporters also write many fine entertaining - sometimes edifying - stories, but they're not usually on the front page.
American Idol broke out to the front. It was a short story, covered the basics. We had a photo of the two finalists. It was surrounded by more traditional, newsier front-page fare.
The world didn't end, democracy didn't grind to a halt. No one canceled their subscription, that I know of. A few people called and stopped by to tell us they were appalled at our lack of news judgment
Heads up: more curve balls are coming your way.
The front page isn't going to turn into the National Enquirer - that I promise - but we are going to be looking for good, well-told stories of all sorts. When we find them, we're going to put them on the front page.
Looking back, the story about American Idol wasn't the best or most important story of the day, but it was a slice of life that struck a chord with millions of people, some of whom live hereabouts.
Keep an open mind, take a look and let me know what you think.
Bellows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org