Newspaper editors are always evaluating what play stories should get and what readers want to read.
Some days the decisions are obvious, leaving editors little choice about which stories to put on the front page vs. which ones go on inside pages vs. not running the story in the first place.
We’ve recently had a spate of such must-publish stories. The Thomas fire started small but got big very rapidly, and because it affected and headed toward Central Coast communities, that wildfire was a big story for weeks.
Putting fire stories on the front page was a no-brainer, given the fact that many of our readers were affected by road closures, employment and air quality, not to mention could be imperiled by a monster wildfire at one time or another. The Thomas fire continued to grow in size and threat level, raging in the hills above Carpinteria and Montecito.
The next no-brainer publishing decision came with torrential downpours that resulted in flooding which closed Highway 101 and destroyed major parts of Montecito, a coastal village known for its celebrity residents, some of whom came dangerously close to being victims of the flash flooding and mudslides.
But editors’ decisions about how and where to play a story aren’t always so obvious. Sometimes we have to use our own experience in rating the value and purpose of events to our readers, then decide what goes “out front.”
All of which went into the creation of this now-regular Saturday editorial feature of bestowing roses on local heroes, and handing out raspberries to clear losers. In many cases, the rose-or-raspberry decision involves stories featuring people, places, organizations and events that might never rate a spot on Page 1.
In the months we’ve been doing roses/raspberries, we’ve noticed that our inclination is to lean heavily on giving roses, and shelving raspberries. Maybe it’s the need to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between …
And here’s the point, in the form of a question: What kind of stories do you like to read? Play front-page editor for just a moment and consider which events and people you consider important enough to rate front-page coverage?
While thinking that one over, consider which you think to be more important to Valley readers — local, national or international news?
It’s sort of a loaded question, because national and international news regularly makes front pages. President Trump has proven himself a master at keeping his name and what he tweets front and center.
But if you have modern communications devices, you already know that, and it may be a clue as to why we so often choose to put front-page emphasis on what’s happening here in North County, South County and generally the entire Central Coast.
Consider this your opportunity to participate in an unscientific, off-the-cuff reader survey. Tell us if our current strategy of featuring local news is your preference, or are you more focused on national and international news.
Here’s the thing about the news media, whether it be this newspaper, a local TV station, the New York Times or cable TV news: It is all a reflection of America and its people. It’s telling the stories about us.