More changes coming for The Union in 2003
This is the time of year that people assess where they have come from in the previous year and where they hope to go in the next. The same is true here in the newsroom at The Union.
There was a lot of traumatic change here in 2002 – a new publisher, a major redesign of the newspaper, a new editor, key people moving on and others arriving. In the last few months, we have dealt with a contentious election campaign, took steps to deal with errors in the newspaper, created a Readership Editor position, and begun rethinking a myriad of processes, including how we think about our readers’ interests, how we plan and write our stories, and how we edit and prepare our news pages.
Each one of these changes in themselves can cause stress to an organization, and we had have all of them packed into a short period of time. No wonder The Union’s staff gratefully looked forward to a few days off over the holidays.
And the pace of change will not abate in 2003. So I thought it would be useful to give readers a preview of things we are looking at for the new year:
Reader board. In January we hope to name members for this group, which will be a community sounding board as we introduce new features to The Union. We want to include a cross-section of the community – a range of ages, occupations, interests, and county residency. When I said in a column that we are particularly interested in recruiting people under 35, some folks thought that meant I was not interested having board members over 35. Not true. It is just that that if we lose readers under 35 – and we are at risk of that happening – then our future as a business is at risk. In many ways, people between 18 and 35 are not like us, so it’s important that we listen to their needs and interests as we strive to be the daily news source for all of Nevada County.
Reorganized “beats.” To make sure that we are focusing on issues and topics that are of prime interest to our readers – such as growth, schools and education, business and investment, arts and entertainment, home and family, environment and recreation – we are aligning the coverage areas of our reporters to match. The intended result is stories that are the most relevant and interesting to our readers.
Expanded Prospector. The Prospector, our arts and entertainment tabloid published every Thursday, is one of The Union’s most popular features. So we are looking to make it even more valuable by highlighting more types of events, expanding the calendar, offering more information of use to visitors, and perhaps including even more about dining, books and other leisure activities.
Feature pages. Look for more regular, special pages dedicated to schools, business and other topics. And we expect to include more local stories on our current special pages, such as Health, Science and Outdoors.
Enhanced Union.com. Nevada County is becoming an increasingly wired community, and our Web site already is the most-visited online news source here. For the most part, our site includes content that already has been published in the print version of The Union. That will change in 2003 as we utilize new editing software and new digital cameras. A reporter dedicated to writing for Union.com will turn our Web site into your source for breaking news at anytime, day or night.
You can see that we have our work cut out for us, but we think you’ll agree that our slogan in 2002, “Better Than Ever,” will be even more meaningful in 2003.
Happy New Year to everyone from all of us at The Union.
Richard Somerville is editor of The Union. His column appears every Saturday.
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