Sunday, January 3, 2010

Developments portend good things for our readers in 2010

The following first appeared in The Record.

Now that the holidays are behind us, the staff of The Record is looking ahead and 2010 is already shaping up to be a great year. There are four developments that portend good things for our readers in 2010.

The first is something we have already shared - that we are making an investment to install computer-to-plate (CTP) equipment designed to make the newspaper’s printing operation more efficient. CTP is a prepress process in which a digital image is transmitted directly from a computer to a plate used on a press. It eliminates the need for producing film or negatives, stripping and shooting plates. The technology reduces costs, increases productivity, and offers better consistency and higher quality.

We have made significant progress since the announcement Dec. 4 in renovating an area of our building where this equipment will be housed. The equipment is due to be delivered in the next two weeks and will be fully operational by mid-February. There will be significant cost savings with no reduction in staffing.

The second improvement is the growth of our editorial staff. Currently we are filling four news writing positions: one to cover business, a second to cover education, and two others to write news and feature stories. These are all new.

The business writer will focus on trends and developments shaping our community within the small business, technology, health, education and non-profit sectors, as well as coverage of some of the organizations charged with economic development.

The education reporter will focus on developing good human interest stories from our local schools, as well coverage of issues such as budgets, construction projects, and trends in education. Emphasis is not only on school districts in our core market but our local colleges and universities.

The other two positions will be assigned some specific responsibilities but be flexible to cover breaking news and feature opportunities that present themselves.

All four positions should be filled by the second week in February.

A third development here is a repositioning of our three weekly newspapers - our Latham, Greenbush and River Life products. Beginning Jan. 21, Greenbush Life will move from carrier home delivery to being made available in news racks throughout the community; the other two publications move to rack delivery Feb. 11. This change is designed to make sure the newspapers get in the hands of those who want it. They will remain free but mail delivery will also be available for a nominal charge. We will begin publicizing the locations where these will be available, as well as how to order mail delivery, later in the month.

The weeklies will also transition from a broadsheet to tabloid format and be designed in a more attractive format. Studies show the smaller size is preferred by readers, and it will make it easier to buy advertising across our product mix since The Record is a tabloid.

Another change to the weeklies: All three will be distributed on Thursdays; currently they are delivered on different days.

One last advancement: I mentioned in a recent column we were looking to expand our arts coverage. Our goal is to give more visibility to the artists who live in our coverage area, as well as some of the other arts professionals (everyone from sound engineers to gallery owners). We’ve been advertising the last few weeks in The Record for freelancers to write occasionally for us in the visual arts (ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, photography and filmmaking) and contemporary music (rock, pop, country, hip-hop, Christian, folk, jazz and rhythm and blues.). The response has been terrific. We’re hoping to try a few people out in the next 30 days and you should see more diverse arts coverage beginning February.

All of these changes are designed to ensure we deliver better hometown journalism in the coming year. We hope you enjoy the improvements.

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