Thursday, September 01, 2011

Westchester | Day 2: How to own a local story

When the competition -- including national media -- nip away at a big local story, there are few better ways to push back than this: cover any and every angle.

That's what The Journal News of Westchester, N.Y., did into the early evening yesterday on a story about a Tuesday brawl at a nearby amusement park between Muslims, park employees and the police.

Swinging back, the newspaper published at least eight follow-up stories, including a mainbar; three photo galleries; a videotaped interview with a key player; a news staff column, and an editorial.

The story I found especially compelling included a review of e-mail correspondence between park personnel and the Muslim American Society of New York, which organized the outing that drew thousands to the Playland Amusement Park in Rye.

A mid-afternoon fight broke out when the park, citing safety concerns, banned some women from wearing religious headscarves on some rides. Some 15 people were arrested, amid a large police response.

A question about deadlines 
The Muslim American Society told the Journal News that it would issue a statement yesterday about the incident, according to the paper, "but as of 5:30 p.m. had not done so."

That's a very early deadline for a fast-moving news story. And it made me wonder whether the paper's decision last year to outsource its printing an hour away to a non-Gannett N.J. publisher had pushed up deadlines.

The Muslim group did eventually produce a statement on its website, shortly after 11 p.m., and one that will certainly keep the story rolling forward. "We sincerely hope that such misunderstandings do not occur in the future," it says, "and that the local police use more restraint in quelling a situation that did not need to go awry."

Journal News circulation
Weekdays, 77,102; Sundays, 103,582, according to ABC's lookup database.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. TJN's deadline is most certainly not, and has never been, 5:30 p.m. It's at least 5 hours later, everyday.

  2. No longer. Since printing was outsourced. News deadline is 7 p.m. as a drop dead time - 5:30 soft deadline.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Jim, why did you remove the post from 9/3 at 9:05? It was completely factual. And it reflects exactly what's going on at The Journal News these days.

  5. 8:46 That may well be the case. And i"m sure you feel stronghly about this. However, I've read that view of the Journal News too frequently in recent weeks. I would rather see some new, fresh insight.

  6. Here's the post as it originally appeared; please tell me what I missed:

    Too bad about the plummeting circulation of The Journal News. As a former TJN-er, I know that the decline is not just the result of a failing industry, but by top TJN management making one bad decision after another -- promising more local news and delivering less, centralizing (read: homogenizing) operations and developing half-baked advertising and marketing programs. Failure has become commonplace, and the company now just throws everything against the wall to see what sticks. Nothing is sticking. The TJN used to be a Gannett powerhouse under the direction of Gary Sherlock. Since his departure, how low it has sunk. Now there is a "puppet publisher" in position while Tom Donovan pulls the strings from Asbury. Someone said that Gannett upper management has mistaken Tom Donovan's confidence with competence. I could not agree more.

  7. There's plenty relevant in that last post! The non-news management at the top is running TJN into the ground. The marketing, advertising and digital geniuses have to realize we're selling news and information. That's what we have to offer; that's "the product." You really do need talented, smart and interesting people, meaning editors and reporters -- yes, WRITERS! -- to produce material that's going to grab and keep readers. TJN has many talented, highly competent journalists -- so lay off the staff. The paper/website just needs a lot more bodies to do the job right (it's a huge and diverse market and has always been a bitch to cover). Nonetheless, the TJN newsroom continues to turn out some great journalism in these stressful times, even as it's being sucked into the industry-wide death spiral ... Would be nice, though, if there were more journalists at the top with vision to really lead TJN out of this quagmire ... if that's possible.


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