Behind The Scenes
29Feb/120

On getting it right …

A real challenge with journalists is the push to get the information out there -- fast (not necessarily first -- and, above all, getting it right. A fairly easy task decades ago in the newspaper business; more of a challenge (I'd imagine) for broadcast television; of the utmost importance in the age of the Internet.

All too often these days it's easy to throw information out to the masses. Anyone with a keyboard can post information, overheard speculation or otherwise .... In the Reformer newsroom, whether it's in the paper, on our website or posted (by us) on Facebook or Twitter, we want to be able to stand behind what we report.

As a brief example: Whenever someone calls the office, asking us to report on something that could be considered a criminal matter, my first question is always, "Well, have you contacted the police?" If the person on the other end of the phone is only looking to "smear" someone in the press, they haven't and won't. Also, if the police are involved, they're doing a good job of checking the facts, so when we ultimately get information from them, it can be considered pretty reliable.

All that said, there's also a simple fact that people can and do sometimes make mistakes.

On Wednesday night, we received a report we'd been waiting for -- clarification and information on two recent incidents where pedestrians were struck by cars around Brattleboro. A quick report was written up and posted on our Facebook Fan Page, where it was quickly brought to our attention that a man ID'd as the driver of one of the vehicles was, in fact, an eye-witness. It only took a few minutes for the man in question to call the newsroom. Once made aware, we removed the original post, posted a follow-up and publicly apologized to the man in question (who incidentally took it all in stride and wasn't too upset about it). But we still heard about it:

"... these guys are notorious for these types of things always jumping the gun,food for thought open your mouth only when u know facts ...."

"This is yet another unfortunate 'mistake' made by the Brattleboro deformer ( yes spelled correctly ). They're quick to sell papers not facts ...."

Well, you get the point. We contacted the police (who made the error) and got it all sorted out within an hour ... plenty of time to "get it right" for the next day's paper. And, I'm sure, our quick notification to them prevented the wrong information from appearing in other regional news outlets.

This serves as a good reminder to why we always need to check and double-check we've got everything right before pushing it out to the masses. Some mistakes are unavoidable; my hope is we always avoid the mistakes that are our own. (And when those mistakes do happen, correct the record a.s.a.p.!)

29Feb/120

Reformer budget for March 1, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the March 1, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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28Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 29, 2012 edition (aka Leap Day Reformer)

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 29, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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27Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 28, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 28, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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26Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 27, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 27, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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24Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 25, 2012 weekend edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 25, 2012 weekend edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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21Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 22, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 22, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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20Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 21, 2012, edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 21, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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20Feb/120

The power of the press

As I often remind staff in the newsroom (or readers who call to complain about negative news coverage) -- people don't remember the good headlines, they only remember the bad ones.

In part, I believe it to have a lot to do with human nature. For example, thousands of people read the Reformer each day. A small number of those readers will take the time to write a letter or send an e-mail to "sound off" on something they've read. And usually it's easier to be motivated by distress or anger over something being read, than to be moved by contentment or joy.

Which (in a roundabout way) brings me to a letter received last week, one which ran in the Weekend Reformer of Feb. 18-19, under the headline "So much can happen when you just believe." It is, without a doubt, one of the nicest and complementary letters I've received as an editor; written by Dolly F. H. Stevens, the Athens Town Library acting librarian, and re-posted here:

I believe in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Good Fairy, Tooth Fairy and angels. Best of all I believe in people — also the power of the pen and press.

On June 21, 2011, Reformer staff member Howard Weiss-Tisman, with photos by Zachary P. Stephens, offered a beautiful write-up about the rebuilding of the Athens Town Library with 125 remaining books.

I’m happy to report that won­derful collections have been donated by persons from seven different states. The newest books are from 2011, oldest were from the 1800s. We have all types. We now have over 4,000 books (and still need to shelf some — but the building got too cold for me to stay inside since it’s unheated). I am waiting for word on when and where the Athens Town Library will be allowed to open.

This rebuilt library has not used any taxpayers money.

I believe in people ... and I believe we will be re-opening as soon as the weather gets warmer. My personal thanks to all the people who believed in me, for the nice write-ups and photos. To all the nice people who “read” the paper then got the books to me — I believed in you all. My love and thanks to everyone for all your help. Please phone with your sugges­tions (802-869-2394).

Best of all, what this letter reminds me of, is how much of a difference we, as journalists, can make in our community each day.

Thanks to you, Dolly, for taking the time to let us know what affect we have been able to assist you in enacting.

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19Feb/120

Budget for Feb. 20, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Feb. 20, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

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