As many of you are well aware, the Democrat has gone through some extensive changes during the last few months. This has been a sometimes painful process both within the newsroom and for readers who had become accustomed to a range of content that we are no longer providing on our pages. We heard a great deal of feedback (some of it was even positive) regarding those changes and to the extent we have been able, we have found equitable replacements for the content readers were most interested in. This includes elements such as the new, more challenging crossword puzzle that now appears with our weekend color comics section.
We continue to work with our fellow Civitas Media associates to refine the look and feel of the Democrat and I believe we are rapidly moving back to a consistency of design and content that readers can appreciate. We also continue to field reader comments and suggestions and are looking at ways to bring back standing content that readers are looking for.
Some of these changes were precipitated by purely business concerns as we continue to adjust to changes within the print media industry. Others were prompted by company-wide efforts throughout Civitas Media properties to have our newspapers take on a hyper-local focus. As we move into 2014 we will be making further adjustments to bring the Democrat in line with these broader goals, redoubling our efforts to serve as the prime source of news and information for our readers and the communities we serve. As part of this move we have ended many of the syndicated content relationships we have had over the years, opting instead to enter into an exclusive syndication agreement with King Features.
This new arrangement came at the same time that Scrips Howard News Service — the source of many of our national columnist and “Other View” editorials — decided to cease operations. With that in mind, readers should be prepared for some changes on this page.
Beginning Monday, we will transition to two-days-a-week of editorial content in our Wednesday and weekend editions of the paper. We will retain our team of local columnists, with Travis McMullen and Rhonda Chalfant appearing on Wednesdays and Deborah Mitchell, Rose Nolen and Bob Satnan in our weekend edition. For the remainder of the week we will have a series of themed local pages focusing on education (Monday), local business (Tuesday), arts and entertainment (Thursday) and food and local dining (Friday).
Much of this material already appears in the Democrat, though without a dedicated day and landing page to help bring the information together in an easily-accessible format. However, we also plan to introduce a number of new features on each page that will allow us to expand coverage into these important aspects of our community.
In addition to local stories generated by the newsroom, I encourage readers to send us story suggestions, submitted photos, news releases and other pertinent information related to the daily page theme. As with any content that appears on our pages, everything runs space available and submissions should be sent to the Democrat no later than one week prior to the anticipated publication date.
In an effort to ensure content gets to the page in a timely fashion, our news team has divided up responsibilities for these pages. Those wishing to submit education-related information should contact Nicole Cooke (email@example.com); business page content should be submitted to me, Dennis Rich (firstname.lastname@example.org); arts and entertainment news should be directed to Emily Jarrett (email@example.com); and food and dining content should be sent to Faith Bemiss (firstname.lastname@example.org). Ultimately this will allow us to reconnect with some areas of the community that haven’t received as much attention as they should have in the last few months, while also moving us closer to our goal of focusing on “local, local, local.”
Readers with questions or suggestions may contact me anytime and your input is extremely valuable to us.