Now we know how the new management of the Ledger-Enquirer is changing the paper. Proclaiming the changes with the lead article on today’s front page – incidentally, that’s where it should be, in my view, since a daily newspaper still has a tremendous responsibility to and influence on a community – Executive Editor Joseph Kieta explained the changes are in response to reader calls for an improved paper.
Instead of commenting on the details of the changes, because you can read that story for yourself easily enough, I will just lift out the one paragraph that is the most significant to me:
“We want to create a daily newspaper that is an oasis from the noise of the daily news cycle – a deep breath and exhale that adds depth, relevance and context and answers the questions ‘why’ and ‘how.’ If we do our jobs the right way, we’ll probe deeply into local affairs and thoroughly explain community issues.”
If the paper can accomplish that, it will indeed provide an extremely important service that is sorely needed. There is a big problem though. The public’s attention span is probably its shortest ever. In-depth analytical writing that is succinct, incisive, insightful, and easily and quickly read has always been a daunting challenge, and it still is.
The L-E folks have my best wishes in meeting that challenge because for many years I have been troubled by the egregiously superficial news reporting so common to TV, which, according to Pew Research, is still where the largest number of people get their news. That’s why I have always said that newspapers are extremely important because of their ability to report in-depth. Still, being in-depth is no substitute for being clear.