Sunday, April 01, 2007


The executive editor of the News-Leader continues his tell us what you think campaign with an April Fools' Day column that's heavy on inadvertent humor.

A planned redesign at the daily has Wyatt pounding on the importance of local coverage in the local paper and evoking a bad cigarette commercial:
There are three newspapers piled neatly in my living room at home. The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the News-Leader. Only one satisfies my local news needs.
Doesn't take much to satisfy the man, does it? Then again, it's hard to expect a lot from anyone who needed market research to learn that local readers want more local news in their local newspaper:
Over and over in market research, you say you want more local news — from your community and neighborhood, about local good things happening, on local growth and development, on local crime and court news, on the quality of our local environment, from local classrooms, on local food and dining, about local places to go and things to do, and local high school sports.
Wyatt's solution? Eliminate the current Ozarks section and make the A-section a local/state blend. To those who think the paper doesn't publish enough news from across the country or around the world, Wyatt proposes a second section with national and international news, business, weather -- and TV listings.

For someone who types about wanting to keep readers informed -- because, after all, the newspaper gods are doing this redesign for you -- Wyatt continues to be a tease:
In my next column, we'll look at our plans for expanded commentary and opinion coverage. After that, we'll explore how our newsgathering is changing to meet new technology and local news needs. Finally, we'll look closer at plans for features sections and coverage of new topics as we revamp those sections through the summer.
Eyeball the N-L prototypes here and prepare to be underwhelmed. Wyatt calls the changes "more evolutionary than revolutionary." Perhaps he meant "devolutionary."


Anonymous said...

Wyatt talks about increasing local news coverage but the News-Leader has almost no reporters with local knowlege or backgrounds.

Wyatt orders the newspaper sports department to stop covering high school teams outside Springfield, Nixa and Ozark.

Wyatt talks about expanding the local editorials but then goes and hires this Messenger guy who bores us by telling what he did in Columbia and Colorado and wherever else he happened to get a job for a little while.

Where did Don Wyatt come from? He obviously isn't from around here and he probably hasn't been here long enough to learn much about us. I doubt he's even tried to. I bet he doesn't want to stay around here much longer either.

Mr. Gannett, please let real local people run the local newspaper again.

Anonymous said...

The News-Leader cannot create more local content with a newsroom that has fewer people every month.

The redesign does nothing for getting more local news. It is merely cosmetic. Really, if favors state and national news if anything.

Plus, he has said nothing about the news hole expanding. That is because it has not. In fact, it continues to shrink.

So tell me how you get more local news in a paper that continues shrink and has fewer local reporters? I've got the answer: you don't.

Art Morris said...

Of course, the same thing has already happened to radio news, and is already underway in TV news.

Define "local news". For us old farts, it's actual coverage of local news, including traffic accidents, shootings, smoke in the sky... anything that moves. And, it doesn't end at the city limits of Springfield.

And, as Ron knows personally, it must include solid investigative journalism, asking hard questions to people who don't want to answer those questions. (You know, the kind of journalism that'll get your fired at most places today.)

Most of us complaning about it are no longer in the demographic that the publications want. Radio, TV & Newspaper want 35-year olds. And, that demo defines "local news" differently than most of us. "Smoke in the sky? who cares?" "Traffic accident? so what!" "Councilmen stealing public funds? I don't care!" That's the new demo. How do you appeal to a demo that doesn't care? By giving them pretty pictures!

Anonymous said...

Do they even have a JC reporter?

Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure what Anon 1208 was referring to when he complained that Tony Messenger talked to much about Columbia, Colorado and other places he's lived. So I checked his blog. Sure enough, today's entry was cheering on the Colorado Rockies. I read no more.

Anonymous said...

No, 9:19, there's no Jeff City reporter there any more. Judging from the lack of information about the city council race — thanks for finally least telling us who's running yesterday — there's no one on the city beat either. Why? Because Don Wyatt hired novice (cheap) reporters for these jobs who held the positions for less than 6 months. Christian County reporter? Forget it. How 'bout business? Seen any headlines there that weren't ripped from the Buz Journal? Don Wyatt, I know you're reading this. I don't care about your redesign. I don't care about your feel-good video coverage. And judging from the quality of letters and blog posts you already publish, I'm really not interested in reading more readers' opinions. Just hire some damn news reporters is all I ask. Springfield drifts in a volatile vacuum when the press turns a blind eye toward the powers that be. (O'Dell, Johnson, Koehler, Bridges- please don't quit)

Anonymous said...

Messenger is too young of a guy to be living in his own past as often as he seems to be. Either that, or he's too frigging lazy or indifferent to dive into the issues of the community where he professes to be the chief opinion writer.

It's right in keeping with the great traditions of Gannett.

Anonymous said...

Wyatt isn't the first Gannett editor sent to Springfield to piss on our heads and tell us it's actually raining, and sadly he probably won't be the last. The doublespeak of "new and improved, less is more" is an all-too-familiar crock of horseshit from his breed of stooge.

Anonymous said...

I saw the original version of a "news release" from the city's PR person recently, and two days later I saw it printed word for word in the News-Leader. That's not reporting, it's stenography. Don't they have any honest-to-god reporters on that staff anymore? They just seem to take what's handed to them and accept it as fact without any questioning. The politicians and bureaucrats must be laughing their asses off over this sorry state of journalism in Springfield. Nobody's guarding the henhouse and the foxes are free to loot it!

Anonymous said...

9:14, reporters "take what's handed to them" because there are about half as many working there now as there were a year ago, with the added workload of posting a million updates a day while trying to generate some real news copy. Don't blame them — we're lucky there are any reporters left at our local sausage factory. The blame for the "quantity over quality" news coverage rests squarely at the foot of Don Wyatt and the Gannett stockholders. Shame on them for force-feeding us unedited non-original copy (although the city does write a very nice press release!) and shame on us for sitting here bitching about it instead of firing off e-mails to the cost-cutter-in-chief.

Anonymous said...

Ron, do ya think the erosion of investigative news coverage is really some sort of bizzare economic development tool? Are the N-L and the Chamber in cahoots? They better wrangle in the SBJ too.

Anonymous said...

I think you are all paranoid as to the amount of sceaming going on in government over the NL.

Anonymous said...

ANON 10:47 raises a very good point. The Snooze-Loser isn't the only newspaper in town. The Springfield Business Journal does a decent job of covering controversial topics and asking tough questions. For example the N-L has given John Q a pass on his sudden plan to build a four-star hotel across the street from the Expo Center, but the SBJ raised the notion that the old goat is bluffing to try to keep a new quality Hilton from being built next to his aging University Plaza and Holiday Inn Express. The N-L seems afraid of offending "movers and shakers" like Hammons and Johnny Morris and especially the Chamber of Commerce crowd. Wyatt and Messenger should be ashamed of themselves for this and many other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:20
Thanks. You made my morning.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the MisLeader anymore? I quit reading it more than a year ago when my subscription ran out. I am very interested in news, including local news. But I can find out more and find out faster from other sources. The Springfield Newspaper has ceased to be important and has nobody but its own inept and greedy management to blame.

Desdinova said...

I know people get tired of me saying this but they should limit the number of Letters to the Editor to things that are relevant. Most of the Letters are the same old "I hate the media/liberals/gays and the teenagers/college kids/gays are out of control." They seem to have run the same letters, by the same people (Mary Traeger/Paul Summers) since about 1989.

Look at the older papers. There were only letters two or three days a week.

Anonymous said...

I see Mr. Wyatt made a contribution here. Short on substance and uninspiring, but ... Oh, wait ...

BTW, Mr. Wyatt, a "JC" reporter is one who covers Jefferson City. That's this state's capital!