Holiday weekends are a great time to have a look at online newspapers and see if they planned for empty newsrooms to fill empty websites. It’s been my experience that when a holiday hits, we scramble to fill space. Quantity, not quality. The following is what we usually come up with.
Don’t try this at your newsroom.
10. Construction photos: We all like those big, yellow Tonka trucks, but there should be something compelling about the image or some news behind it.
9. Petty complaints: You know the ones I mean. Man is angry to find dog poo on his front lawn. Woman is mad because the city started road work at 8 a.m. Driver is unhappy to get speeding ticket because other cars were going even faster.
8. Grand openings and reopenings: Ribbon cuttings, big cheques, ground breakings all fall under this category.
7. Anniversary stories: TV can get away with reruns. Print can’t. If nothing significant has happened to reopen an issue, let the day slip away.
6. Fender benders: Unless a reporter or photographer is already in the area, minor crashes don’t justify tying up scarce staff.
5. Being a mouthpiece for local politicians: This one’s tricky to balance. But if their message has no merit, why devote staff to it?
4. Weather stories: Unless all hell is breaking lose, maybe we can give our readers the benefit of the doubt that they know how to look out a window.
“It rained in the city yesterday afternoon, and officials are saying everything that wasn’t indoors got wet . . .”
3. Promotions: If you can’t get through to our ad department, by all means talk to my editor and have a trained journalist publicize your show, fundraiser, product, business, etc. Jobless rate? Poverty? Health? Education? Bah!
2. News releases: Ours consistently make the front page. No wonder we’re losing readers. Glad to see PR people are earning their keep.
1. Wire copy on the web: Maybe no one will notice we have little or no local content.
The Hyper Journalist