Two daily newspapers, on opposite ends of the country, announce they are going the community newsroom route as editors see it as a way to engage and involve locals, observes Grumpy Editor.
The Pasadena (Calif.) Star-News is doing it “to be more transparent,” says Frank Girardot, editor. In Kingston, N.Y., The Daily Freeman, led by Ivan Lajara, features editor, will soon launch a new community newsroom project designed to engage local readers.
Veteran editors, however, wonder how allowing the public into newsrooms is going to improve coverage --- and circulation --- in growing competitive times rather than adding some sharp journalists, including tough investigate reporters and strong political beat-savvy writers to staffs.
In a folksy message to readers, the Star-News editor points out his newspaper, first “to break this ground” in California, “is a part of your community --- just like your neighborhood grocery store, your favorite coffee shop or the place where you and your family worship.”
Girardot, adds, “We'll do it by creating a community space (by August) where readers and residents can drop in to pitch stories, ask questions or make use of public blogging stations with free wi-fi access.”
Meanwhile, The Freeman beams it will offer public classes to the community and open its conference room on selected days, providing wi-fi and computers for public use, along with tutorials on using the newsroom’s archives and microfilm readers.
This movement should make copy editors --- especially those with gray hair --- eyeing their months to go before retirement.