Through GateHouse Media’s Better Journalism program, members of GateHouse’s Newsroom Development team work with selected newsrooms to take already strong in-depth coverage to the next level. The series discussed below is just one example of the powerful investigative work enabled by Better Journalism.
The Southern Oregon town of Medford is isolated from the rest of the Northwest — major cities like Portland and Sacramento, California, both stand four hours away by car.
That makes it even more imperative for the Medford Mail Tribune to remain a strong voice for the region, providing in-depth news coverage on a consistent basis.
As part of GateHouse’s Better Journalism project, the Mail Tribune has been ramping up its in-depth with recent series on the legalization of marijuana, homeless villages, and the burgeoning wine industry — all while maintaining intensive coverage of a recent rash of wildfires.
In the most recent two-day package, reporter Damian Mann and photographer Bob Pennell made the 340-mile round-trip to Eugene, to see how that city has tried to combat its homelessness problem. The duo talked with those who have benefitted from a temporary housing village in Eugene, and a family that could be helped by such a village in Medford.
As part of the Better Journalism program, Mail Tribune editor Bob Hunter and his staff has added emphasis on planning out in-depth pieces, and have worked with members of the Newsroom Development team to track the progress of stories.
The 21-person newsroom has exceeded even its own expectations for in-depth news stories, and has driven the conversation on some major regional topics.
Thinking about ramping up in-depth news in your own newsroom? Here’s how the paper’s staff has made sure these pieces have been rolled out consistently, and how they’ve been displayed with extra shine:
• Hunter and his staff have made in-depth news a part of daily and weekly planning sessions, complete with a spreadsheet that tracks how the newsroom is progressing.
• Editors like David Smigelski, Anita Burke and Cathy Noah have made sure pieces include breakout boxes, maps, impact label heads and brag boxes that give the reporter’s qualifications or the amount of work that went into producing the pieces.
• Each week, an editor has met with GateHouse’s Newsroom Development team by phone to talk about the previous week’s in-depth stories, and to discuss future ideas.