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Thursday, July 19, 2012

You never know what story is going to sell papers

One of my early lessons in newspapers was doing the best with what you have. In Carlsbad, I remember one issue of the paper in which we were planning on our Page One lede story being something that was to be discussed at the City Council meeting that night. Unfortunately, that item got tabled, leaving us with very little to write about but a big Page One lede story hole to fill.
My managing editor, Shon Barenklau, asked me what the best thing out of the meeting was, and I said it was a resolution supporting a blood drive or fun run or something like that. Well, if that was our best story, that was our best story and that became our lede.
In a small town with slow news days, it could be that way sometimes. A similar thing happened to me in the summer of 2008 when I was planning on a big story out of the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. Unfortunately, the item got tabled and wasn’t even discussed. I thought about Shon and said to myself, “Well, what’s the best story?” It was a rather mundane approval of a couple of fourplex apartments near the Paul’s Market Plaza. It was Tuesday night, and I had nothing else. So a short 8-inch story became my lede story that week under the headline, “Kuna hears plan to put apartments near Paul’s.”
Oh well, I thought, I deserve to put out a less-than-stellar issue every once in a while.
It turns out that week’s issue sold out and nearly broke a single-copy sales record. Go figure.


  1. I came across your blog via Ashley Barron's new weekly roundup post. It was great to see Idaho mentioned as part of the literary community! I taught English in Melba for six years, and picked up a copy of your paper from time to time. Currently, I live in North Carolina, but blogs like yours are one way to keep that Idaho connection alive.

  2. Hi Jeri, Thanks for posting a comment. Glad you found me. I usually post every weekday, so feel free to follow along. I've written a lot about Melba and the school district, so you'll probably see some stories that you'll recognize.