Immerse yourself in what journalism is | Hillsboro Star-Journal

Drink what is journalism

Editors and publishers from across the state gathered last week for the first time in two years to share experiences and honor the best in state journalism.

We were delighted to win literally a box full of awards – 40 in all, including first place for overall news and writing excellence, best homepage, best editorial page, excellence in design and layout and the best special news section (Explore). We also won first place for Best Investigative, Farming, Religious, and Education Stories and for Best Automotive, Furniture, Hardware, and Professional Services Ads.

We swept first, second and third in the material category and also won second or third for articles on education, health and religion and for professional services ads in addition to 21 other awards.

It was particularly encouraging that every member of our staff won at least one prize in a competition that allowed us to measure ourselves not only against other medium-sized weeklies. In our same division were the major newspapers of Dodge City, El Dorado, Emporia, Iola, McPherson, Newton, and Wellington, among others.

Although they may publish more often, newspapers like these have more time to produce showcase entries because they fill most of their issues with news from news agencies.

A familiar theme at the convention was how local newspapers often go unappreciated in their hometowns. One publisher suggested buying each of his newspaper’s readers a subscription to a newspaper from another region so readers could see the difference.

Almost all editors and publishers lamented how secrecy government has become, with governing bodies continually meeting behind closed doors on matters the public has a right to know and police censoring crime reports despite clear legal advice that they shouldn’t. Newspapers can’t even report most traffic fines anymore, because government record-keeping systems created through lucrative freebies don’t allow it.

Much of the discussion has centered on the decline of urban newspapers, which have been hit hard by the economy, by trade and transactions among mega-corporate owners, and by changing ways of delivering regional, national, and national news. and international.

Rural newspapers have been less affected, but still have to worry about the inability to attract workers, declining population, fewer local businesses supporting local news as a public service, and increasingly shady and unprofessional social media practices.

A college professor – not the former whose words you now read – has come forward to supposedly save the day, as professors (current and former) often think they can. His solution was to dramatically increase subscription prices and tie them to social opportunities.

Paying double the normal subscription rate would entitle “Press Club” subscribers to attend free monthly beers that the newspaper would sponsor.

We accept that subscribers pay only 20% of the cost of producing a newspaper. Without advertising, the $1 paper you hold in your hand would cost $5. Nor are we about to criticize events like Chingawassa Days for selling $3 cans of beer to ensure they break even.

But when we see how many violent crimes and incidents of domestic violence are alcohol-related, we’re more than a little disgusted trying to manage not just newspapers but also beers, which don’t seem to be there. have shortage.

We are also concerned about whether Press Club members would expect special treatment in the form of favorable coverage for their businesses and the covering up of wrongdoing or negative developments affecting them.

Our newspaper mailing costs will increase by 8.5% next month. Printing costs are sure to rise as well, and have already risen dramatically for many other newspapers. We also have to worry about the few community-minded local businesses that continue to be overwhelmed by social media sales pitches, trinket sellers and the like.

But we have what unfortunately seems to be a new solution to the problems of rural newspapers: more aggressive media coverage and better-designed advertising.

We stake our destiny on quality, not on being cheap and fancy. Read us with a can of beer if you like, but we’ll focus on serving not booze, but news and serving advertisers who support the idea of ​​preventing the region from becoming a “desert ” news, where the only voices heard are those of scheming officials and howling trolls.

We believe that democracy demands nothing less.

— ERIC MEYER

Comments are closed.