Sunday, March 18, 2007


Don Wyatt, executive editor of the News-Leader, promises big changes to the paper. In a Sunday column, Wyatt types and hypes about the future of the paper:
Just as the newspaper you hold today is nothing like the first edition of the Leader, tomorrow's News-Leader and the organization that creates it will be nothing like what you know today. ...

Bigger and bolder steps lie ahead in both digital and print as the newspaper industry transforms itself.

These will include significant changes to the daily newspaper, new weekly publications for nearby neighbors, more Web sites with greater interactivity and the most dramatic shift in how news is gathered, edited and distributed since the Leader was first published by a Confederate soldier many, many years ago.
But Wyatt doesn't deliver any payoff; his column is a big tease, that's all. He doesn't mention:

•The paper's new Christian County publication, designed to boost readership (and ad revenues). It's sorely needed; according to the paper's Audit Bureau of Circulations reader profile, the News-Leader's weekday editions reach about one in three people in Greene and Christian counties.

(Joe Hadsall has some interesting thoughts on the Christian County angle.)

•The April 1 morphing of print reporters into borg-like information gatherers, armed with video cameras and laptops so they can create vid content for the web.

•The death of the traditional features desk and the creation of a "custom content" department.

•The birth of several more blogs, so mainstream media can look (and act) more like new media.

It's all a numbers game, of course. Daily newspapers have suffered circulation slips as the Internet unleashed the wires and abolished traditional news deadlines; those papers now rely on Internet readership to show how they're actually gaining readers. And their sites are built to maximize the appearance of mammoth readership, forcing surfers to click separate links for each individual letter to the editor, for example.

None of these things has anything to do with the newspaper's role as a watchdog, or as creator of the news agenda for southwest Missouri. Do these things still matter in the largest newsroom in the Ozarks?

Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. Absolutely true. But change isn't always for the better.

Your thoughts on the coming "new" News-Leader?


Anonymous said...

My thoughts revolve around Wyatt's last lines in his non-column: Give him feedback; he wants to hear from you. Wyatt is single-minded, self-contained and has extreme tunnel vision. He has no interest in the views of community members or of his own skeletal staff. He talks a good game of circles, though - or not, as his column contains plenty of circles with no substance.

Anonymous said...

My first thought when I read Wyatt's column this morning was puhleeze.

After the Snooze-and-Misleader buried the conviction of Scooter Libby beyond the front page of the paper I can't see how they could be considered a relevant news source. Libby was only the highest ranking White House official to be convicted of a crime in over 100 years. How is that not news worthy?

Anonymous said...

I agree with a previous post - Don Wyatt is a corporate climber. Springfield is just one stop along the way. He is never seen in any circles of civic leaders, has alienated others, and doesn't have any sense of who this community is or wants to be . This is the same problem with the sad line-up of reporters. They have nothing vested in Springfield except to survive and hopefully move on to a bigger market or become a PIO officer for a local governmental entity.

Anonymous said...

The News-Leader gave up all pretense of being a newspaper about five years ago. It is a bulletin board on which are posted unedited news releases and two-day-old stories from wire services. There are no staff reporters or local columnists who dig for real news. The News-Leader is the mouthpiece of the Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, John Q. Hammons and big advertisers. It isn't a newspaper anymore.

Busplunge said...

anon 8:51,
I know a couple of reporters who are working on a story that has the potential to knock some socks off.

We're talking money, politics, corruption and maybe even a little sex.

It won't be wrote in a day, but if it ever comes out, wow!

I read Wyatt's column, not too much new there.

My 79 year old Mother reads the paper on the web, mainly because she doesn't think she can afford a subscription.

Since she moved two doors down from me, I have been bringing her my paper after I get done reading it. And yes, it is all neatly folded with the sections in order.

Was in a flea market the other day, saw some old News Leaders and Daily News. Those papers were HUGE! Size wise of the paper I mean. The paper today is about what one sheet used to be. It is getting smaller.

I like the actual feel of reading a newspaper. I prefer reading it to reading the paper on line. Besides, I need something to wrap the garbage in.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad what they have done to a once grand institution.
Readership isn't down due to lack of interset. It's a lack of intersting material. Poor leadership.

Anonymous said...

"Once grand?"

You mean back when Harry Jewell owned the printing press, not long after the Civil War?

Anonymous said...

When THE editor of the newspaper writes a piece of crap promotional column that fails to deliver anything of substance (even from a promotional standpoint,) how can anyone reasonably expect the underlings to offer anything better in the news columns? Wyatt is a sorry excuse for a newsman.

Anonymous said...

the revolving door spins on at the NL. Melissa DeLoach is the latest reporter to announce her departure.

Anonymous said...

Let's see... this summer marks Wyatt's third year at Ye Olde News Loser... almost time Papa Gannett swept him off to bigger and better blunders.
To hell with the devil we know. Despite his smarmy invitation for dialogue, Wyatt is no more interested in engaging with the community his publication — er, I mean multi-media information vehicle — produces than I am in reading any more of his droning apologies for degrading the newspaper business. He doesn't know his audience and we don't know him. Please, Papa. Send us a new exec. This one stinks.