Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trash Neighbors? Why not?

Eye on Miami suggests that the Herald dump the Neighbors section (actually a series of customized neighborhood news sections) and use those resources to beef up the Metro (local) section. That's probably a good call. Most of the content in Neighbors is fluff and if there's ONE THING that daily newspapers can still provide it's in-depth local news coverage, what some call hyperlocal coverage. The Herald recently won a well-deserved Pulitzer for such coverage.

It seems however that there is way too much resistance to changing things at the Heralds. It's like they want to stick their head in the sand and pretend that their business isn't slowly dying.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with fluff?

You were never hugged as a child.

Carolina said...

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Neighbors sections, only because that's where I first got published. In a real-live newspaper. At 18! It was very exciting, and it provided a little (not very much) extra cash during the summers when I was home from college. And I learned a ton about reporting from the experience.

Diverting Neighbors resources to beef up the Metro section might not be a bad idea, although I'm not sure whose call it is to make. I interned for a summer at The State in Columbia, SC (another Knight-Ridder paper), and they had Neighbors sections as well. It seemed to be company policy for newspapers that covered sizable metro areas. I don't think any one newspaper could've decided to do away with it; then again, things might be different now that they're owned by McClatchy.

It's an interesting discussion, and for all we know, the powers that be over at the Herald might be having a similar one now. The main question, I think, is whether or not advertisers will just transfer over to the Metro section. This is just speculation, but I imagine that a Neighbors ad is cheaper than a Metro ad because the audience is smaller, even though it's more targeted to the consumer the advertiser is looking for because of location. Will small business advertisers be willing to pay a bit more for an ad in Metro? (Again, this is mostly speculation and my thinking out loud, or onto a keyboard.)

Henry Gomez said...

Carolina,

Thanks for dropping by. While the pool of potential advertisers is probably different there are other factors to consider like differentiation. Local stories of the type Neighbors covers can and are often covered by local weekly newspapers such as those published by Grant and Michael Miller. But investigations like "house of lies" can only be pulled off by the Herald. The paper needs to offer readers something they can't get from a national newspaper, the blogs, or free weeklies. And a lot of people smarter than me think that mean having really complete and thorough local coverage.

Robert said...

The idea of having a Neighbors- style metro section is a good one, but I don't think the Herald has a large enough pool of knowledgeable locals to properly cover local news on a daily basis. Aside from the occasional big investigative series, I am thoroughly unimpressed with the Herald's "Metro" coverage in its main edition. Neighbors does a MUCH better job, IMO, because the journalists writing for them are much more knowledgeable of the local area.

I say get rid of most of the "metro" reporters and replace them with the Neighbors' reporters.

Insider said...

Neighbors will be tht last to go as it's too profitable to cut.

This fluff section has always been about capturing local ad dollars, not actual news. Neighbors helps subsidize unprofitable sections like Sports.

I dare say Neighbors might outlive The Herald.

Tio said...

The Flagami Neighbors Section should do a follow up report on Oscar Corral's arrest for soliciting teenage prostitution.