Published April 2, 2008
Driving into work this morning, I was startled to hear my name come over the radio.
I'm on auto-pilot with morning radio: Mangino-click-Bob/Tom-click-NPR-click-Morning coffee-click-Mangino-etc.
Driving after a morning meeting, I bumped into Louie Free's show. And that's where my name popped up. So I had to sit in my car and hear it out. Ironically - he was calling me at my desk while live on the air. I'll run three flights of stairs for a few things. Sorry Free -- not one.
Anyway, Free was calling me to gripe about story placement in today's paper, namely a story about Yo. being the 11th least-costly city for business in a ranking of comparable U.S. cities. It was on B5.
I had my own story placement gripe today: I liked the "Police use cruisers to scare away dogs" on B4.
Story placement is a common debate, and is driven by lots of issues. I'll use Free's as an example because it's typical of what can bump a good story off A1. (My police/rottweilers story had a similar challenge)
Free wanted his story to make it to A1. On a perfect day it would have. So what got in the way of a perfect day:
-- Sometimes we learn about an item too late in the day, and finding the right people to make it a complete story is difficult. A complete story should offer multiple sources and offer a decent amount of bite to the story. My police/dogs story ran up against this challenge.
-- Sometimes we just don't have the staff to tackle the story properly for that day. We're staffed all 7 days in a week, and about 16 hours per day. In our staffing plan, we don't have folks sitting waiting for news to happen. We try to keep a balance and a flexibility in our news efforts. We plan our own news options (such as features). We attend planned news events (such as festivals). And we react to unplanned news events (like Free's story or crime events).
For that last bit, covering such events becomes a "grab whoever can squeeze it in or who can cancel a planned event."
-- Sometimes we just don't communicate enough in our office, which can be a pain since we are in the communication biz. But with so many hands -- about 50 just in the newsroom -- in the mix to make a daily newspaper, things can fall through the cracks.
This is a quick rip at Free's concern about his story not getting better play.
There is a whole other chapter I can write some day about what stories get to the front page, and why. I will write it at some point.