Making the transition from editor to reader

For the past two weeks, I had no idea what was going to be in the Sunday paper. That’s a first in 25 years. Even when I took vacations, I pretty much knew what we planned to publish.

It’s been a wonderful surprise.

I have read the paper as an interested citizen. The paper was filled with information, enterprise and delightful surprises. Enterprise stories that explored the back story of the news of the week. Profiles that tell me about an unsung hero in my city. It’s not just the News & Record. Charlotte, Fayettevile, Burlington and other papers across the state have the same kind of enterprising, interesting content for their communities.

Newspapers approach Sunday differently from other days of the week. Sunday is the highlight of the week. It’s the biggest readership day and nearly half of a daily paper’s advertising revenue comes on Sunday. The newsroom knows that is displays its best work on Sunday. Weekdays are handled much differently, and I’ll write about that later.

I know that many people find they can do without the paper. I know that many never go to a paper’s website. But, based on Pew survey results from September, they can’t do without the journalism, thank God. If only they knew it.

Most Americans (69%) say that if their local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.

Yet the data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people’s lives than many may realize. Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about—more topics than any other media source.1 But most of these topics—many of which relate to civic affairs such as government—taxes, etc., are ones followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the sale coupons!