The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 19, 2013

Readers, Herald adjusting to changes

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — Finally, after years of negativity, good things are happening in the newspaper industry.

The death of newspapers has been a constant theme spewed by television stations, blogs and newspapers themselves for years. But recently, some good news has surfaced, giving many in the newspaper business hope that things are turning in the right direction.

Circulation is up as a whole for many newspapers and content is getting better. One of the ways newspapers are weathering this latest storm in their industry is through cooperation, something the Clinton Herald has been entrenched in during the last couple of weeks.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the look of our newspaper has changed since the beginning of April. That’s because we’ve encountered a major transition since late March.

A common theme around the nation for the last few years has been the advent of design hubs for newspapers. This is where one large newspaper designs not only its own product, but several other sister newspapers as well. That is where the Herald fits in during this latest change.

We no longer paginate the newspaper at the office. Our sister newspaper, the Traverse City Record-Eagle, in Traverse City, Mich., now handles those duties for us.

That is why you’re seeing a few changes. The type size is the same, but the look is different than many readers have become accustomed to when opening the Herald.

They have their own style, and so far, many of the elements that are new have made our newspaper more attractive. They’re also utilizing many elements that we’ve use in the past.

Like any transition, there have been bumps. Communication is the biggest hurdle, and while it’s gotten much better since the beginning, there are still wrinkles to iron out.

We still direct them where stories should be located, what pictures to use and what headline should accompany each story. With all that information being sent to a different time zone, some things get lost in translation. But we’re working to improve that, and since the advent of this change, major issues have been fixed.

For the reader, this change will only lead to good things in the future. For the past five years, almost every waking moment I spent at work was used for designing. I read stories, placed them on the page and then constructed a puzzle each afternoon and morning, to get the text to fit into our newspaper.

That doesn’t happen anymore. Three-fourths of my day is now used for reading content and relaying information to our design hub. That gives me more time to devote to what I enjoy most about this business — telling stories and informing the public.

This is where the reader truly benefits. You’ve told us numerous times that you want more local content. Over the past year, we’ve delivered that, giving you local stories pretty much throughout our newspaper on a daily basis.

That will only get better once everything is running smoothly (which becomes closer to reality every day). Reporters will still be expected to produce local content, but now editors will have more time to focus on stories that may take a little longer and need more time than a typical meeting or feature story.

As we continue through this new terrain, I ask for patience. Give the new look a chance, and in the end, you, the reader, will be the biggest benefactor.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.