by American Society of Newspaper Editors
How different papers maintain training with reporters to cover their home area.
Portland (Maine) Press Herald
The paper selects a dozen-plus readers from the community annually and meets with them once a month on a newspaper-related topic - things like local news, sports, the editorial page, business section, the paper's website. The editors most closely tied to the subject at discuss the topic and coverage. Then readers weigh in and their feedback is circulated around the newsroom.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
The paper sent most of its newsroom, more than 50 reporters, copy editors and assignment editors, into city neighborhoods over a four-week period to talk to with residents. They wanted to get into specifics about what the people cared about. Not "education," but "teacher competence" or "phonics" or "discipline." The staff members worked in teams, which were debriefed and their findings posted, discussed. The paper wound up changing its TV reporter to a pop culture reporter, added an education column and improved its prep sports coverage.
- Every few years, a consulting firm conducts formal survey research.
- Between those surveys, the paper conducts in-house surveys and does other pulse-taking on reader responses to coverage.
- Throughout the year, the paper uses a variety of techniques to reach out to the community.
- Newspaper managers from various departments take promotional vans and tours, holding block parties in some neighborhoods
- Reporter and photographer teams go unto neighborhoods to talk with people, looking for "ordinary" stories.
- The newsroom occasionally holds town meetings to hear from readers.
- Editorial board meetings and news meetings are taken into the community - or community groups are invited in.
- Reporters hold "sounding board" sessions with residents of areas they cover, particularly in the suburbs and ask them about their concerns and their reactions to current issues.