You’ve gotta have friends
We did something really cool with this week’s cover story. By we, I mostly mean Deidre Pike, although the structure that allowed it to happen came from five newspapers, each of which took a small risk.
You may notice that Deidre went to Cancun to cover the protests of the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial. Cancun is in Mexico. Travel is expensive, and even if the event being covered is of importance to the entire world, most newspapers—for example the Reno Gazette-Journal—won’t send a reporter. Newspapers across the country end up publishing a generic perspective, and if the newspaper is conflicted in some way, readers may see nothing.
I think everybody understands that newspapers are businesses, and factors like cost vs. benefit have to be weighed. We couldn’t have afforded to do this on our own, so Deidre went to five editors—me (Reno News & Review), Jimmy Boegle (Tucson Weekly), Tom Gascoyne (Chico News & Review), Matt O’Brien (Las Vegas City Life) and Tom Walsh (Sacramento News & Review)—and asked each to pay a percentage of the expenses. Each editor agreed, and the editorial and production team prepared for a story to come in past deadline (needless to say, we each had a backup plan in case something apocalyptic happened).
Deidre gave a different version of the story to each editor, quotes or an anecdote from a person at the protests from each newspaper’s locale, essentially writing five stories on deadline with little sleep.
I’m very pleased at how this story will positively impact our readers. Let me put it this way: If Deidre had not gone the extra mile, and my only choice was to run a wire story from some New York City writer, you probably would not have read or learned about how an organization like the WTO, meeting in faraway Cancun, affects your life right here in Reno. Instead, you’ve got a cover story right here in your hands.
I think that’s so cool.