A big news week — and what ran on Page 1Edward Snowden. George Zimmerman. The U.S. Supreme Court. Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela. As tempting as it is to add “walk into a bar” after that list (and to hope that still could be possible for Mandela), that’s not why they’re named here.
By: Robin Washington, Duluth News Tribune
Edward Snowden. George Zimmerman. The U.S. Supreme Court. Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela.
As tempting as it is to add “walk into a bar” after that list (and to hope that still could be possible for Mandela), that’s not why they’re named here.
Rather, they were all big stories on the front page of the News Tribune last week.
Trying to decide which to play on Page 1 was tough because several were going on at the same time. With rulings on the Voting Rights Act and gay marriage, the Supreme Court made the front page (with praise and condemnation from both the left and right, depending on the ruling) on two days. Conversely, we opted to combine Mandela’s presumed final days with Obama’s trip to Africa.
If you’re thinking “I read the DNT for local news,” relax. That’s our priority. As both an immediate news fix and the marquee for what’s inside, the front page is almost entirely local and News Tribune staff-written.
The exception is a national or international story that’s likely the biggest news of the day. Sometimes Duluth is directly connected to it. In tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings or Newtown shootings, the News Tribune reaches out to report on local ties, including Northlanders now living in those areas.
But more often, the only link is that we share the same planet, or that we may be affected by geopolitical events or policies decided elsewhere.
Most newspapers have a nation/world section, so why put any of this on Page 1?
A recent trend in newspapers is to go the other way. I noticed this when serving as a judge for a national journalism contest a few years ago, during the time gloom-and-doom prognosticators couldn’t stop predicting the end of newspapers.
Entry after entry consisted of “hyper-local” articles, usually about how a three- or four-block stretch of a neighborhood in Cleveland or Detroit or Houston had changed because of decay or regentrification.
Two things struck me: First, that you could write the same story anywhere and at any time (the definition of “the old neighborhood,” it occurred to me, was what it was like when you were between the ages of 5 and 15), and second, that editors were panicking and overreacting.
So we looked at accentuating the opposite, keeping in mind, again, that most of our coverage is already local.
The national/international story we choose for Page 1 isn’t always the newsiest. Instead, it’s the best fit in the mix with the other articles on the page. If the day’s local news is predominantly severe or serious, we’ll run a lighter wire story, perhaps about an interesting social development (what was up with those Internet-beaming balloons from Google the other week? Are they watching you?)
On other days, world stories — usually about popes, presidents or major disasters — can’t help but dominate the page. You can expect something like that when Nelson Mandela passes on.
Unless on the same day, Edward Snowden, George Zimmerman, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and Barack Obama actually do walk into a bar.
Robin Washington is editor of the News Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.