Behind The Scenes
31Oct/120

Conflicting stories in print?

How do conflicting stories end up in the newspaper?

Obviously, it's something we try to avoid at all costs. However, there are occasions where different shifts and/or editors are handling different sections of the paper. Obviously, in the perfect scenario, the night editor checks over pages prior to deadline, and many times these issues are avoided and never make it to press. There are, however, times when extenuating circumstances ruin the best laid plans. Take Hurricane Sandy, for example.

First, consider this letter to the editor:

I realize Monday was a challenging day with the storm coming, but I still must “raise an eyebrow” at the Reformer’s lack of overall editorial oversight. There was unfortunately contradictory information printed in Tuesday's paper. On Monday morning, I had informed your reporter that our Special Town Meeting needed to be postponed due to storm. I nevertheless found, on the front page of the Towns sec­tion, the erroneous information that the meeting was to be held on Oct. 30. On Page 14 of the same day's paper was the correct information that the meeting was being rescheduled to Thursday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. at the NewBrook Fire Station. Does no editor proofread the full paper to ensure that an article on one page doesn't contradict anoth­er and to determine which is correct?

This meeting has been called to decide an important issue for our town. It is crucial that town voters receive accurate and time­ly information about the meeting so that they will be able to listen, express their views, and vote. The meeting was post­poned out of concern that some voters might have storm-related difficulties that would prevent them from attending. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 8, 6 p.m. at the NewBrook Fire Station. All are welcome to this public meeting, although only legal voters of the Town of Newfane can vote.

The letter writer is correct: Monday was a challenging day, and the newsroom tried to get as many pages done well in advance of deadline, so that the night shift could focus specifically on storm coverage. (Since the Reformer offices also were in the path of the storm, there was concern that a power outage could prevent the paper from being published altogether. Getting those pages done in advance ensured a we'd have something to provide readers in the morning (in a worst case scenario).

As the letter writer points out, a calendar listing on one of those early pages featured the vote; Later in the day, after we were aware of the cancellation, a reporter wrote a full story to alert residents of the re-scheduled vote, which was featured a page of storm-related coverage.

To be clear: mistakes like these are inexcusable, but there are reasons that they happen. As always, I use these types of errors as a learning tool to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

31Oct/120

Budget for Nov. 1, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Nov. 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
31Oct/120

The challenge of up-to-the-minute coverage in newsprint

With Hurricane Sandy taking place so close to Halloween this year, many parents were wondering when and if scheduled trick-or-treating would be postponed. I, personally, had never heard of such a thing. But a year or so ago, some towns did just that (I believe it may have been connected to an early snow storm in 2011.)

In anticipation of Sandy, the officials from the town of Chester sent a press release on Monday afternoon, stating that trick-or-treating would be postponed one week, which we promptly shared on Facebook. That triggered, over the next 24 hours or so, a flurry of phonecalls to various area town officials, to figure out if any other towns were doing the same.

Keene and Chesterfield, N.H., along with Chester ... they all chose to postpone. Other towns were waiting to see what the storm would bring.

As it turned out, Vermont and New Hampshire escaped the destruction of Sandy. And that ultimately lead to all towns re-re-scheduling (as I put it) their trick-or-treating back to Halloween night.

It's easy to change and update online listings; not so in print. One more advantage to the new ways were able to provide news to the readers. And also a reminder to the challenges newsrooms face when covering rapidly developing news.

30Oct/120

Budget for Oct. 31, 2012 [Halloween] edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Oct. 31, 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
29Oct/120

The Reformer storm center

A quick post-storm examination of the Reformer's Hurricane Sandy coverage: Last week, our partners at Digital First Media created an interactive map which was tracking the storm's progression up the East Coast (particularly of interest since no one was exactly clear on where Sandy was headed). We posted that map as breaking news throughout the weekend, and it was far-and-away the most popular online feature at Reformer.com.

Building off that, I decided to create a "storm center" of sorts on the website: There I was able to house not only our own, local coverage of the storm and what Windham County officials were doing to prepare for its arrival, as well as area closings and cancellations, but also various other pieces of information: interactive maps like the one mentioned above, tips for getting through the storm, photo slideshows from throughout the region, and other great coverage being generated by our DFM partners.

Being able to merge this information into one section for our readers created a great product, and offer a dimension of coverage I don't think we would have been able to pull off a few years ago.

Filed under: projects No Comments
29Oct/120

Budget for Oct. 30, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Oct. 30, 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
28Oct/120

Budget for Oct. 29, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Oct. 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
26Oct/120

Budget for Oct. 27, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Oct. 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
25Oct/120

Thought for the day (who wants daily news edition)

Just wanted to take a moment to reflect on this statement by the Reformer's first editor, Howard C. Rice (taken from a piece he wrote in 1958, and first-published in our recent centennial special section):

Despite the belief of many local residents that we were crazy in our view that Bratttleboro would support a daily newspaper plus our own ignorance of the tech­nique of daily publishing, The Reformer did well from the out­set — well enough so that we were able to pay off our loans much quicker than we expected ... At the outset, readers accustomed to getting their local news in weekly doses were a bit skeptical of having to read it every weekday evening, but with­out too much resistance these habits changed ... ."

Imagine, once management was concerned that people, familiar and comfortable with a weekly newspaper (or two, in this case), were concerned about shifting to a daily. These days, we've gone from daily to as close to 24/7 coverage as we can manage.

25Oct/120

Budget for Oct. 26, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Oct. 26, 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.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading