Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your indulgence, please

What follows may come off a bit like braggadocio, but it seems in this Age of Entertainment that if we don’t explain the difference between real journalism and what passes for it in some circles, no one will. So, please indulge me.
          
The Post Register published approximately 3,000 local bylines in 2011, or about 9.5 per print edition.
           
Had I been asked to guess without knowing, my number would have been smaller. The nine-and-a-half figure doesn’t include all of the local material we print that doesn’t get a byline -- briefs, weddings, obituaries, anniversaries, calendars, letters to the editor, etc. Nor does it include the stories provided by the Associated Press. To me, it’s an astonishing achievement.
          
What it means is that, on average, we published 9.5 stories a day that rose to the level of deserving a byline, meaning that its writer -- usually a full-time reporter on our staff -- had researched and vetted the information in the story and two editors had reviewed it.
          
We’d love to double or triple the size of our reporting staff, but the quality and quantity of the work done by our 24 journalists (which includes reporters, editors, photographers, and sports writers) is substantial. Many of those stories took many hours to research write, edit, rewrite and otherwise prepare for publication.
          
This is why the concept of “citizen journalism” remains such a curious thing. Once you understand what it takes to produce a substantive local newspaper, you immediately grasp that it can’t be done by just anyone.
           
It’s certainly true that many of our story ideas come from readers and other members of our 10-county community. From there, however, the work is done by people who have training and experience in journalism, and that’s not a trivial matter.
           
Meanwhile, the 2012 Idaho Legislature is going to provide Idaho’s newspapers with the opportunity to showcase their collective journalism. Newspapers from Twin Falls, Boise, Nampa, Lewiston and Spokane, Washington -- plus Idaho Falls, of course -- have full-time reporters covering the session, in addition to one from the Associated Press. We’re pooling that coverage to get the most out of it. Each afternoon through each evening, those newspapers are coordinating their stories to ensure that our readers are getting the maximum benefit of our coverage.
           
Add to that the insightful and agreeable commentary from the likes of Corey Taule, Marty Trillhaase and Dan Popkey and the result is legislative coverage you can’t find anywhere else. Simply put, if you want to know what’s happening in the Idaho Legislature beyond sound bites, wrap-ups and partisan-tinged hyperbole, the Post Register is the place to go.
           
We thought you’d want to know.

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