Le Moyne communications major hosts long time Colorado newspaper editor as visiting writer
Le Moyne Professor Dan Roche introduced this year's visiting writer, Steve Henson, by urging the audience to visit the blog newspaperdeathwatch.com. There you will find its blogger, Paul Gillin a self-proclaimed newspaper junkie, following the decline of print journalism, and supporting a new online model. But Gillin's message doesn't entirely ring true for Henson, the managing editor of The Pueblo Chieftian in Pueblo, Colorado who spent the better part of last week engaging with Le Moyne's communication majors.
Henson does concede that the large urban paper's model is in trouble, but his paper is thriving. Has the Chieftian had to make changes to their operation? Yes. Have these changes hurt? A little, but he said these changes haven't effected content or the mission. You see Henson is a community journalist. He and his staff care about their readers, the residents of Pueblo. The Chieftain is the third largest daily in Colorado with a circulation of 50,000. Local stories represent 50 to 70 percent of its daily content. His reporters write on average two and a half stories a day.
"They (newspapers) have got to reflect their communities, a mirror," he said. He tells his journalists to go into McDonalds and ask people what they care about.
Essentially, get out of the newsroom and go to the people. His take is that newspapers lost touch with their readership. People want to know who is doing what in their communities and why.
How did newspapers lose their way?
Henson said decisions were made by graduates of the Jerome Howard School of Journalism. Who is Jerome Howard? He was the actor who played Curly on the Three Stooges. "Knuckleheads," Henson said.
It started when everybody fell in love with the USA Today model. A model that was set up for people traveling, on the go, looking to catch the major headlines. Everybody went nuts with graphics, little breakouts and six-inch stories. When local newspapers did this, they lost their completeness, which is telling their readers not only what happened, but why it happened.