July 13, 2009

Many eager to tell new Grand Rapids Press editor what to do

waving hand

Paul Keep didn't wait long to jump back online to talk with his new community.

The new editor at Grand Rapids Press asked for help and the ideas are coming in fast and furious from readers.

First, though, Keep who became the editor of the largest Advance Publication news outlet in Michigan on July 1, promises to:
  • Focus on local
  • Listen to readers and
  • Communicate.
About 40 readers quickly came back with suggestions, including firing the food critic, beef up the travel and sports section, and drop opinion from news stories. Several referred to the western Michigan newspaper allowing a sports columnist to return to the payroll despite a guilty plea in a drug case.

Stay focused

Some folks were confused about Keep's influence, leading to complaints about the content and price of the Bay City Times, delivered on the east side of the state. (Yes, he worked there once upon a time. Also, at The Flint Journal, Musekgon Chronicle and Kalamazoo Gazette. The feedback was sought for the current news organization, the one in Grand Rapids.)

At least one recognized the difficulty of pleasing everyone and suggested that Keep:
"Organize a readership panel and meet with them monthly to get their ideas. Keep us informed. My best guess is if you show us frequently that a dozen, diverse readers have a dozen (if not more) differing opinions on how to edit a newspaper, at least some of your readers will gain some insight into just how impossible a task it is."
Some feedback is very specific, naming two organizations and information requested. Some was more general, such as "report on West Michigan."

Make us proud


"I challenge you Paul to take the initiative and really make the Press the kind of paper that Grand Rapids can be proud of. ... make up for the decline in quality and quantity.

Another reader had many ideas, including:
  • More positive news,
  • Investigative- dig a bit, create accountability and
  • Cover local news more.

One person thought the local initiative could be accomplished by putting "more pictures in the print edition, and less online. If there is one thing people go out of their way to buy a paper for it is because their picture (or someone they know) is in the paper."

While another said:
"There is other news besides what Johnny and Mary are doing.
Look abroad

The content of the Grand Rapids Press Travel section was criticized:
"I find it hard to believe a town the size of Grand Rapids has such a poor travel section. Indiana? Northern Michigan? ... I want to see Europe, China, Mexico, Hawaii. I want to look at the Sunday Press and take a vacation to that exciting place. Fire your travel staff and start over."
Sports was discussed by several, including:

"We love our Michigan sports - especially the pro teams - Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings along with UofM and MSU. It would be great to add a few more pro/major college columnists. "

Mayo on mind

It's clear that some in the conservative community are not happy with the newspaper's decision to allow David Mayo his job back.

"In my opinion the Grand Rapids Press is on the wrong side of the Pot issue (in particular because it is allowing a (now) known, unsupervised felon to be a role model for, and occasionally interact with, young people)."

Although Mayo started before Keep official started, I'm sure he was involved in the decision.

Meanwhile, it was nice to see that Keep said goodbye and hello and plans to keep in touch with his newest community.


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