In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten questions about the placement of stories and why we put some stories on the front page and some stories inside, so I thought I’d spend a little time explaining our thought process and philosophy.
First and foremost, we try to be local on our front page. We believe that what sets us apart from everyone else is our coverage of Canyon County. We feel we cover Nampa and Caldwell and the rest of Canyon County better than everyone else.
We try to play up those stories that no one else has.
Yes, sometimes a story is so big that it deserves to be on the front page or “above the fold,” meaning it goes on the top half of the front page so that it’s visible in the newspaper racks, compelling a passerby to purchase a copy of the paper.
We had a few complaints about our story of Nampa High grad Brian Peters, who is now a drag queen in Seattle. Some of our readers thought we should have put stories about Hurricane Harvey on the front page instead.
I get that, but particularly in this day and age of social media and the Internet, you can find coverage of Hurricane Harvey in hundreds of places. A story about a local Nampa High graduate is unique to the Press-Tribune.
We often put local feature stories on the front page, such as features on the Greenleaf Café, a local woman hitting a double eagle, the Homedale man who started Jacksons Food Stores or the husband and wife who started a lip balm company in Boise. I didn’t receive any complaints about those feature stories on the front page. I suspect the main complaint wasn’t about prioritizing news but more about the fact that Peters is now a drag queen. The fact remains that he’s a local grad who’s gone on to some degree of notoriety, and his story was compelling and beautifully written by our city editor Tom Hesse.
I understand that some of these feature stories aren’t as “important” as national or international stories about hurricanes or missiles being fired over Japan, but to a large degree, the local features stories are our bread and butter, what sets us apart from everyone else.
Just a couple of months ago, I received a nice email from a reader about our front-page feature stories: “I enjoy the large feature articles on the front page each day. Truly, that is a very nice touch, I look forward to reading them each day.”
The death and funeral of former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus was another story that I was questioned about in the past week. One Nampa school board member apparently thought a story about Andrus’ death should have been above the fold instead of at the bottom of the front page, where we ran it. What we did run above the fold was a story about the Nampa school board declining an offer to take over the old Saint Alphonsus hospital in Nampa, again, a story that appeared only in the Idaho Press-Tribune. It wasn’t on any TV stations or in any other newspaper or online news site. Just the Idaho Press-Tribune. News of Andrus’ death, over the course of 24 hours, had been reported hundreds of times in dozens of media outlets, on TV, online and in social media. Our reasoning was that by the time the paper came out the next day, news of Andrus’ death would be 24 hours old and likely most everyone had already read about it. But no one had yet read about the school board’s decision about the Saint Al’s building or, for that matter, an update on how the 2017 fair went.
That’s a snapshot of how just some of our decisions get made. Regardless, rest assured that we have discussions about these decisions, and there is a thought process behind those decisions.