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We are newspaper reporters

November 11th, 2011 by David Nelson

Last Saturday we produced a special “saturation” newspaper, so those of you non-print subscribers in Port Orchard, Bremerton, Silverdale and Poulsbo may have received a free Sun on your doorstep. The idea was to introduce, or re-introduce, the Kitsap Sun to folks we may have lost touch with. Remind ‘em newspapers are still alive, and maybe sign a few people up for subscriptions*.

Part of the strategy was a marketing piece that featured photos and short descriptions of most of the reporters and photographers in the newsroom. It was nicely done and hopefully introduced our staff to potential readers, but the idea to spotlight a newspaper’s headliners or personalities really isn’t “new” (though it had been awhile since the Sun’s run that kind of “get to know us” effort).

What is kind of new is the little project on Tumblr I noticed yesterday, which is generating some buzz in journalism circles (at least circles on Twitter), called We Are Journalists. It’s along the same lines as our campaign to personalize reporters, in a way I haven’t seen before. From what I understand it’s patterned on the “We are the 99 percent” slogan going on with the Occupy movement, as a way of collectively standing up to ask for a little respect for the work reporters do in the face of some increasingly tough odds. So journalists write a short bio and post a photo of themselves, and the world can see that we are real people, who, for one reason or another, love and care about the work we do.

The submissions seem mainly to come from young reporters so far, but we’ve all been there so it’s interesting to read in a sentimental way. Some of the war stories or stereotypes sound a little schmaltzy or cliche, but deep down I like those in the way most people are suckers for romantic comedies. And then there’s the inside jokes that only journalists can come up with, and probably that don’t make anyone else laugh. Like: “I feel like I’m sinning if I don’t read at least 3/4 of the newspaper, and I often find myself reading yesterday’s news to cure my guilt.”

I loved that one.

Here’s mine (which should probably be edited if I’m really going to submit it):

I go home every day having learned something new. My friends ask me what’s going on around town because they know I’ll know. When I meet people, we’re able to find some connection because the newspaper’s reported on them, their neighborhood, their job or something they’ve been involved with. I’m neither a Democrat or a Republican, and won’t ever be because I’m a journalist instead. I get to cringe when certain area codes are on my caller ID since I know I’m about to be unfairly criticized because we did our job in making someone uncomfortable with a status quo belief (and then everyone in the newsroom gets to roll their eyes about it together, which is fun).

I like when a reader, who is insignificant in the reams of customer statistics that drive business decisions in the world today, takes the time to say thanks for a photo or puzzle or book review or publishing the score from her granddaughter’s volleyball game, reminding me that the Sun makes a difference in someone’s life every day.

Yesterday I was at the Manette Bridge opening, tweeting and sending photos back to the newsroom and saying hi to my neighbors, and a few people asked how I got out of work on a sunny day to hang around at the bridge. It was my work.

I am the editor of a local newspaper.

*It kind-of worked.

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9 Responses to “We are newspaper reporters”

  1. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    ” We Are Journalists.” Powerful. Thanks.

  2. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    “I like when a reader, who is insignificant in the reams of customer statistics that drive business decisions in the world today, takes the time to say thanks…”

    David – Yesterday I received a canned call that my subscription to the Sun was expiring and gave the option to renew now or later. I chose now – and followed the instructions to do so then waited and waited and waited until enough minutes scooted by and I hung up.

    Seems to me the canned calls to resubscribe could be better coordinated with little wait time for those wanting to resubscribe – that a person’s time not be unnecessarily wasted.

  3. Rob RIvers Says:

    I used to subscribe until you demanded my credit card as a payment vehicle. I understand it saves you money, but customer service gets you customers. I give no one my credit card number so they can automatically bill me each month/quarter. And I do not understand why you do not understand that with all the “slugs” in this world that try to rip-off people who use credit cards.

  4. David Nelson Says:

    Rob, I think there may have been a misunderstanding with our circulation department. It does save money and we’ve given discounts in the past for customers to switch to credit card payments, but we’ve never demanded our subscribers pay with a credit card. I’m sorry you somehow got that impression. You’re welcome to pay by check, and if you’d like to resubscribe that way you may contact our Circ Sales Director Jason McNeely at 360-792-5247 or jmcneely@kitsapsun.com.

    Sharon, we’re aware of some phone marketing problems lately, and I’m glad you pointed it out as well. That kind of service isn’t acceptable, and we’re working to get that straightened out.

    -David

  5. Robin in Manette Says:

    Hey David,

    It was good to see you on the bridge the other day, always nice to run into you and shake your hand.

    We finally broke down and gave your billing department our credit card number. I applaud you for being as diplomatic as possible, but folks should realize that David works for a large corporation and probably only has limited control over billing issues. Having been in a similar position when the company I used to work for closed down local billing I can sympathize with you.

    As long as you’re serving as the complaint department today, at what time in the morning should I expect to find my paper on my front porch? Until I get around to mounting a PC in the Commode, I’ll continue to subscribe to the print edition. But if it’s not on my porch at 5 AM then I missed it.

    I have another complaint. I waste way too much time posting on these dang forums. Could you make the discussions a little less interesting so I can get some work done. ;-p

    I’ve made friends with Colleen Smidt who writes a community piece for that other paper. (and doesn’t get paid for it) I was chatting with Colleen last night and it seems that the other paper is going to require folks who post on their forum to do so from their Facebook account to combat vitriolic posts from anonymous posters. I pointed out to Colleen that many Facebook accounts use pseudonyms so I didn’t see how that would solve the problem. I also gave her a hard time and pointed out that nobody posts over there anyway, so why bother? heheh.

    Still, I thought it was an interesting development and wondered what you though about it.

    Robin

  6. David Nelson Says:

    Robin,
    Well-timed question about anonymous comments. I wrote a post about Sound Publishing’s decision to use the Facebook log-in last night, but I wanted to sleep on it before I publish it here. Should be up this afternoon though, I’m tweaking a few things now.

    I’m pretty sure we guarantee delivery by 5:30 on weekdays and 7 on Saturdays and Sundays. You’ll have to start sleeping in a bit.

    -David

  7. Robin in Manette Says:

    Hehehe, I guess they’ve been spoiling me in the past by having it here by 5. I delivered the Sun as a kid 40 years ago. I remember how picky folks were about their delivery. Those poor kids back then had to remember exactly where each neighbor wanted that paper. Funny that it’s no longer a job for the neighborhood kids on their bikes, but actually something someone does to feed their family, tough times.

    I’l look forward to your next post on forum anonymity.

    Robin

  8. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    I will not post through Facebook so requiring a blogger to do so will eliminate some posters, including me.,

    I hope sending blog posts through Facebook won’t be required here. I’ve noticed very few nasty posts lately – much different than when I began blogging a few years ago.

    Sharon O’Hara

  9. David Nelson Says:

    Sharon –
    We’re not planning to require Facebook to sign in, although it is an option you can use if you prefer.

    I just finished a post with a few more thoughts: http://pugetsoundblogs.com/editors-desk/2011/11/16/in-defense-of-anonymous/

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