Paul Grzella's note to readers last week on handling breaking news echoed a dilemma I faced in 2016 when I was freelancing as well as blogging for a while, namely the loss of immediacy in print.
Paul is the editor and general manager of the Courier News and I knew him for all of my 16 years at the newspaper. After retiring in 2003, I realized that changes in the newspaper industry were making routine coverage of governmental meetings a luxury rather than a necessity. With the help of Barbara Todd Kerr I found a way to get out news of major land use and City Council decisions - the Plainfield Plaintalker blog. which we launched on June 17, 2005.
There came a time in 2007-2008 when newsroom staff was so short that I could contribute as a freelancer for pay while still blogging for no pay (the Pressgrrrl/Bloglady era). One night I was freelancing and got a big story too late for deadline at the newspaper. It was very tempting to break the news on the blog, where readers would see it first thing in the morning, than to file it and have it appear in print two days later. I stuck with my obligation to the newspaper. (Read my blog post on the dilemma here.)
Years later, when Mark Spivey covered Plainfield and reporters had cellphones, I would return from a meeting we both attended and see Mark's story up online before I even wrote a blog post. It still would take a day or so to show up in print.
Paul's note to readers Thursday acknowledges the fact that nowadays news breaks in minutes on cellphones or Facebook feeds, so he says the Courier News is "leaving the breaking news coverage to our digital products" and enhancing the print edition with "content you'll find more satisfying and in-depth" rather than repeating headlines readers have already seen.
There is more to the promise, along with assurance that popular features such as comics, puzzles, weather information and horoscopes will remain in the print edition. There will also be a "Daily Rundown" summarizing local news.
Paul says, "Most importantly, our journalists will continue to provide strategic coverage of news from your community - news focused on making the most of your life in Central Jersey. This includes being watchdogs of government and engaging partners in improving our community."
He concludes with an invitation to tell him what you think, either by calling him at 908-243-6601 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have subscribed to the digital E-edition for several years now and I also check the online Courier News for breaking stories. It's a different world for news and more changes are no doubt in store.
As for blogs, the Plainfield blogosphere once had 30 participants and now has only a few bloggers who post regularly. Recently some new ones have appeared. Mine is now almost twelve years old, even though I vowed to close it down at the 10-year mark. There is just always more news - often good news - to tell.