March 4, 2009

Update on the Press

Since I'm constantly asked how things are going at the paper by those who actually see me, I figure I should probably let everyone in on what little I have to say. One thing I learned from the whole 'paper is going to close' episode is that there's no point in staying mum.
Perhaps the biggest change in recent weeks is that we're going to print the paper in Northhampton, Mass. now, not in Torrington. That's one more tie to the old company that's nearly cut.
That doesn't matter much to readers, I suppose, but it's a key step to separating entirely from the bankrupt former owner. That's a good thing.
A positive move for employees is that we are once again covered by health insurance, after a five week gap. That's obviously important. What's more, the insurance seems pretty good and the cost is a little lower than what we had before (though we still pay something like 40 percent of the premium plus a couple thousand more for using it, so I'm painfully aware of how much better city workers' benefits are than my own, for those who wonder).
We have three reporters working in Bristol now -- Jackie and I cover the city while Diane Church covers Plymouth and Burlington. There were a couple of weeks when we didn't have a towns reporter so we're glad to have her aboard. Even so, three is still one less than we had as recently as December, but perhaps we'll get a new police reporter one day soon. I sure hope so. We need it.
All in all, though, I see progress. We're moving in the right direction. Mike Schroeder, our boss, is looking for new office space. We all expect to move within a few months, but so far there's no word on where the new quarters will be.
I don't know if advertising or circulation is up, but I'd be surprised if it hasn't improved at least a little since Schroeder bought the paper. I know we had a circulation bump right off the bat.
I should repeat my plea that if you want a quality local paper, you buy it, read it and tell Schroeder or any of us what you would like to see in it. Tell us how it can get better. We're all eager to see this experiment work out -- and not just because it's nice to have jobs.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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Anonymous said...

You do a good job, Steve. It seems like you're at everything that goes on.

Anonymous said...

Dump "Sound Off" Dump it today and dump it for good.

Get a restaurant reviewer for central CT, maybe a local couple or couples with good sense and good taste. The only cost might be the meals. It helps the readers of Mike’s papers and might lead to more restaurant advertising.

Consider a throwback to the columns once written by Lou Bachman or Pop Simmons. People looked forward to those; even Joe Zerbey used to have a column.

Develop some guest columnists on various topics and rotate them.

Limit Mike Nicastro to once a week or once every two weeks. His pieces are too long and too frequent and his opinions sound like he is lecturing me.

How about some good news stories about local folks that you could prepare ahead of time and use them on slow news days?

Editorially the BP needs to develop its own personality, liberal, conservative, libertarian, whatever but stake out some ground then justify and defend it.

Just my $.02 worth.

Steve Collins said...

4:02 -- Thank you for offering some serious, good ideas.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought...

Anonymous said...

Steve, I got rid of the BP almost two years ago. Unfortunately, it lost its hometown newspaper feel a long time ago. There was not enough coverage of what was going on in Bristol, or enough stories about Bristol people. I don't care about Terryville, Burlington or Plainville.

I think the sports section was biased and weak. rah rah Eastern and Central only. St. Paul gets a bone, occasionally. The Little League coverage was sporadic. No mention of the swim team.

The national and international news stories were AP reports that I could read anywhere. Waste of space and old news.

"Sound Off" portrays the Bristol ignorant and we don't need to showcase the absence of real problems in the lives of Bristolites.

I agree with the previous comment that the paper has an identity crisis - (several) is it a hometown paper or a regional paper? is it liberal or conservative? It would be nice to see more opinion especially since our local government officials and school board offer so many controversial topics to write about.
We also need more local reporters, like you.

Anonymous said...

A Police reporter is a must, but not just a "pick up the arrest blotter and print it" type. While I feel overall the BPD does a good job, they would probably be even more responsive and transparent (how's that for a few buzz words) if the Press was shining a light on their activities - both good and bad.

Anonymous said...

Liberal or conservative? Give me a break!

Anonymous said...

Steve, I like your blog but I don't need to buy the Press because everything I would be interested in is on your blog.

Do you think that maybe it hinders sales for the paper?

Steve Collins said...

I don't think the blog cuts into sales much, but you never know. Truly, I would prefer to put just a bit of my stories online with a link to the full text on the Press website. But at this point, I can't count on the website to retain the stories and ensure the links don't go dead. Down the road, I'm sure, that's how we'll do it.

Steve Collins said...

I should explain that even something as simple as keeping an electronic archive of stories -- which Jackie and I have done for years for ourselves -- hasn't happened under at the Press. Our previous owners never understood the value of archives, which are a potentially rich source of online revenue in many ways. They just lost most of what they had without thinking about it. That's how poorly they ran the business. A $200 backup drive would have sufficed to keep the stuff forever, but it never happened.

Anonymous said...

The Press is a liberal Democrat paper, but no one there will publicly admit that. So they have a long way to go before they can justify and defend their position.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve:

I have some ideas and suggestions for the bristol press.

1) Have an open house or grand opening of the new Bristol Press and hand out hats and t-shirts with the "new" Bristol Press logo on them.

2) Have periodic town meetings or forums at the Press for citizens who want to have input into the content and direction of the paper.

3) More daily human interest stories and articles about individuals in our community, people we drive by everyday.

4) Columnists that write about local issues and topics such as crime, neighborhoods, etc.

5) Encourage more reader submitted I-reporting.

6) I agree, get rid of that awful sound off section. It is a down grade to the paper.

7) Print local political cartoons from local artists. This was done in the 1970's with great success. Many people like myself would buy the Press just to see who was getting lampooned in the paper.

8) Less filler and regional news. I agree, we can get that anywhere.

9) Encourage Bob Montgomery and Dave Greenleaf to write more stories and pay them some kind of a wage. They are proven, time tested writers for the Press.

10) More local photos for the visual thinkers of the world.

11) Get the "Tattoo" more exposure in the new Bristol press.

Anonymous said...

I think a big thing was the apparent New Britain leadership being let go (on another post on the blog), hopefully I won't have to read a Farmington story on the front page now.

One thing that I thought was hilarious was a post by 7:30 about sports and news:

"There was not enough coverage of what was going on in Bristol, or enough stories about Bristol people. I don't care about Terryville, Burlington or Plainville. I think the sports section was biased and weak. rah rah Eastern and Central only."

So, you don't care about Terryville, Burlington or Plainville, yet you're upset because you say the sports section only writes about Bristol?!?!?! Interesting take. Ha ha ha ha.