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From the Editor's Notebook

February 6, 2009
by Chuck Hunt, Editor
You’ll have to forgive us this week for tooting our own horn quite a bit.

Normally, newspaper people like to keep a low profile, preferring to cover the news, rather than be the news.

Most of us like being the person operating the camera, and not be the subject of the photo.

This week is a little different. We have to do a little self-promotion when our staff gets rewarded for their hard work, and is recognized with five awards at last week’s Minnesota Newspaper Association annual convention.

Every newspaper in the state is a member of the state newspaper association, although not all compete in the better newspaper contest. There were thousands of entries in this year’s contest.

To win five awards is doing pretty well.

Newspapers compete in several circulation categories; small weekly, large weekly, small dailies and large dailies all compete against each other.

In some instances, however, such as the Best Advertising Campaign and Best Circulation Promotion categories, all of the newspapers in the state, regardless of size, compete together.

The Register took second place in those divisions, something we are proud of. Yes, we are tooting the horn a little more.

The five awards were for several areas of our work at the newspaper. They covered advertising, stories, photography and circulation.

It was great the whole staff was a part of the projects which were honored.

The newspaper convention is much more than just awards. There are many sessions dealing with hot topics in journalism, and new techniques to learn.

This year the sessions seemed to deal more with the internet than ever before. Sure, there has been at least one session every year about newspaper websites, but this year that theme seemed to dominate.

Experts have told newspapers for years that we need to have our own website, or else someone will take our news and put it on the web themselves.

Many, many newspapers now have their own sites. The question remains what to do with them.

We put a lot of our news on our sites, and people around the world are able to read it.

The question remains, how does a news organization make a profit doing this? If you give your product away for free, on the internet, aren’t you cutting your own throat?

Of course, the answer is to sell advertising on the site. That only works to a point, and most newspapers report their website sales to be between one and 10 percent of their revenue.

It is difficult to devote a lot of time, energy and expense to something that accounts for one percent of your income.

This year several sessions about the web dealt with new and innovative things to do with your website. Most dealt with animation and video.

Some larger newspaper websites now feature video news clips closely resembling the six o’clock TV newscast.

Others are using new technology to send their news from their website, directly to the consumer’s computer, instead of waiting for the consumer to come to their website. Terms such as Tweeter, Twitter, and Tweakup were thrown around by computer gurus, all of whom looked to be in their early twenties. The more seasoned newspaper veterans scratched their heads and said, “Huh?”

I was one of the head scratchers. I didn’t quite get it. Luckily, in our newspaper company, the web site is developed by others, and we simply load material onto it.

The debate on what the future holds for newspapers will rage on for more years, I am sure.

There are those who say “print is dead.” Others say that while daily newspapers’ futures may be in jeopardy, smaller community newspapers are surviving – with some even thriving.

One expert gave this advice; newspapers must realize they are in the news business, not the newspaper business.

He said news organizations need to realize they gather and dispense information (news, ads, photos) and the method by which it is delivered may be changing.

For our part, we will continue to deliver the news of Faribault County each week. And we will try and do it in our usual award-winning way.
 
 

 

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