Well, we finally kicked off this blog thing. I know what you're thinking — it's about time. But it's better late than never, right?
I hesitated to start because I wanted to make sure I would be able to post on a consistent basis. There is nothing more annoying to me than a blog that's rarely updated. My hope is to update this blog at least twice a week. I'm sure there will be weeks where I update it more often — or less. But I always want to have at least two updates posted each week.
Think of this as a forum to ask me questions, make suggestions, criticize the paper, praise the paper (especially that :)), and find out why we do some of the things we do.
We want the blog to be interactive. If you have a question, start a forum thread by following the link at the bottom of this page. And, as soon as I get a chance, I'll respond.
I want it to always be conversational and relaxed. I find that a lot of us newspaper folks can be a bit stuffy, thinking we know it all. It must be something in our blood, who knows. But we want to change our tone.
We're also slowly trying to change the culture in our newsroom.
We're looking for input from our readers. We intend to make changes were necessary.
I hope you've noticed some of the changes already. If not, let me take a minute to update you on a few:
• As of this week, we now have a "Web reporter." Ben Lockridge, who many of you may know from his days at WTOK-TV, is now responsible for most of the content you see on our Web site — aside from the forums. We hired Ben last year and he has since been serving as our third reporter. But now that Georgia E. Frye, our government reporter, is back, we hope to use more of Ben's talents on the Web side of our newsroom. That doesn't mean you won't see some of Ben's stuff in print, but you will be seeing less of it. He has been shooting video for a few months, but you'll soon be seeing a lot more of that and other Web components.
• Almost two months ago, we hired 8-year veteran reporter Brian Livingston as our crime/military reporter. Brian is the first true crime reporter we've had at The Star since Marianne Todd departed in 2001. Solid crime reporting has been missing for a while, but we're slowly getting it back. Brian has barely gotten his feet wet and he's already broken two big stories — "Downtown Crime" and "North Meridian incident." Both of those stories would have likely gone unreported in the past. But Brian, who understands that good crime reporting comes from rolling up your sleeves, hitting the pavement and talking to people, did the work and got those stories to the public. He has also given us several great human interest features. I think readers will grow to love Brian. He's always looking for a good story to investigate. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (601) 938-6838 (yes this is a cell; he said call him 24/7 if you have a good story idea).
• We debuted two new features this week on our Web site: Reporter's Notebook and Ask the Mayor. Reporter's Notebook will feature things such as meeting agendas, contracts, extra paperwork, etc. from city and county government reporter Georgia E. Frye. That came straight from a suggestion on our forum. Ask the Mayor is something Georgia came up with to get readers involved in the semimonthly mayor's news conferences. At each meeting, Georgia will ask the mayor one of the reader's questions. We'll then post his response in special box in the paper and we'll post a video clip of his response on our Web site.
• We debuted "What's up with this?" in our print edition last week and it has been a hit. That's another feature our readers helped start. And, yes, we know that we did the "unthinkable" of ending the first bullet point with the forbidden preposition. Sorry if we offended anyone. The idea was to be more conversational and that line set up the location. I despise the word location (don't ask why). Regardless, we will reword the phrase next time to, "Where this is located:"
• We have placed more of an emphasis on local news. Hopefully, you've noticed a lot more local news in the paper during the past few weeks. That should only get better as we add more staff to the newsroom.
I'm sure I missed something; we've been changing a lot lately. I hope you guys have enjoyed the changes. I'd love to hear what you guys think about some of these changes — even the things you don't like or wish we would do better.