May 19, 2006
What makes news?
Visitors to the Monitor are often curious about how we decide what is news. Everyone knows a flood is news, but what about when there are no floods? What about when editors and reporters have some discretion over what makes it into the paper?
Between raindrops this week, editors had two meetings that might shed light on this question from very different perspectives. One dealt with our coverage of arts, entertainment and lifestyles, the other with mental health care in our city and around the state.
With leadership and good work from editors Allison Steele and Vanessa Valdes, we’ve been talking about arts and lifestyles coverage for months. It is an important phase of our content-driven redesign. Like other phases, this one began with a questionnaire asking readers what they wanted. We learned a lot about where local people go and what they do for entertainment. Readers also told us what they enjoy reading.
Next Thursday and Friday, we’ll debut the new sections, which are titled A&E and Friday. Mark Travis, a longtime Monitor editor, will have a column in Sunday’s paper giving some details about what readers can expect.
This week’s meeting was a brainstorming session. We kicked around ideas about the content of the first few weeks’ sections. While it’s important that the sections be informative, we hope readers will have as much fun reading and looking at them as we did planning them.
A somewhat different group of editors and reporters met the day before to talk about mental health coverage. This was a logical follow-up to a session several days earlier with three officials in the field, including Louis Josephson, who runs the Riverbend Community Mental Health Center in Concord.
What we learned during that session startled us – or it startled me anyway. Years ago, to its great credit, New Hampshire went from a state that was warehousing mentally ill people to a state that was a leader in community-based treatment. We are a leader no longer.
Too many mentally ill people cannot get the care they need when they need it. Too many are on long waiting lists for housing that is too scarce. Too many are homeless. Too many very young people who may be mentally ill are waiting too long to be diagnosed and treated.
Our meeting at the Monitor this week was another brainstorming session to answer this question: How can we best inform readers about this major public issue? We wound up with a good list of story ideas and a resolve to fit them in over the next several months.
I wish we could focus even more attention on this issue and move more quickly to inform readers about it. But in this business, there is always more to do than we can get done. That is both a joy and a frustration.
Posted by Mike Pride at May 19, 2006 06:24 PM
Mike todays ED about downtown is also good , I have been to some planning sessions and all presentation shown had NO PARKING METERS , that would be be helpful to getting people back to downtown . meter attender [not a lot needed] would still patrol for all day parkers using the old chalk the tire trick . check other cities one in mind is Burlington Vt has closed a street and put up benches and it is all walking and park at a garage for .25 per hour peter yellED
Posted by: Peter Yelle at June 16, 2006 10:44 AM