News Media

Everything Old Is New Again

Like a television station with a new format and broadcast studio, the Idaho Statesman is proud as punch about a change in the product they plan to offer readers April 19.

Thursday the new editors and publisher made a gracious gesture to the “Statesman Alumni” living in Boise (most work for government agencies), sharing their news presentation plans while offering a peek at the new design. They used terms like “jazzed, buzz, and flippers” describing the excitement of staff and habits of readers.man_sleeping1.jpg

We don’t have samples, but the GUARDIAN can offer a “scoop” on what to expect from the latest addition to the McClatchy newspaper chain, based on mock ups we were shown. The California based company wants to be the “local paper” for Southwest Idaho. Might as well, everyone else is from the Golden State!

Like a TV station, the Statesman invested a bunch in surveys and consultants to offer “just the right mix of news and features.”

Newspapers today are under assault by TELEVISION, INTERNET, and BLOGS.
So what do they offer? A front page that looks like it came straight off a YAHOO or GOOGLE home page…and they plan to offer TELEVISION in the form of streaming video after publisher Michael Petrak watched the NCAA March madness on his desktop.

Top half of the new format will have only one or two stories which they can conveniently swap in or out of the spaces for “localized” editions in Boise, West Ada, and West Treasure Valley. This “new” distribution theme was standard practice 35 years ago.

Bottom half of the “cover” as page one is known today will be YAHOO style with a batch of short headlines and teasers which require you to figuratively “click” to view the story…found on other pages inside the paper.

Some other changes or at least new wrappers for the same products:

–News Assistants will do what we used to know as “rewrite” and offer up short items about clubs, schools, communities, churches, etc. under the heading of “Communities.”

–”Varsity Extra” will potentially be a money maker. Like the TV stations and their Prep helicopters, the Statesman has 3 new sports reporters and claim they will cover 42 schools 5 days a week.

–Editorials will now be “Opinions” and there should be more of them from more viewpoints.

–In what has to be a concession to fads, they will offer a “sudoku puzzle” daily, despite the fact none of the editors can pronounce it.

–A desperation move to run yearbook photos of high school seniors has the potential of daily “corrections,” (mixed up names and spelling errors) but they may sell a paper if Johnny’s mom can say, “Johnny had his picture in the paper today.”

–Tim Woodward, probably the best writer on the staff, has been recycled yet again. Instead of covering Lewis and Clark’s 200 year old journey, he is going to visit and report on where people go when they are not at work or at home. This could be fun if they let him try the strip clubs, massage parlors, bars, movie theaters, and other secret spots in the area…which won’t be secret after he tells us about them.

–Finally the paper plans to devote a greater effort to their web site.

The GUARDIAN has never looked at the mainstreamers as competition, but if they start using terms like, COMMISHES, COUNCILOR, or “FOR YOU NON LIBRARY TYPES…”
we will all know where it came from. If they resort to talking about POOP and writing sarcastic bits about local government, we will declare war and go after their advertising dollars.

Remember, you read the inside poop about the Statesman on the GUARDIAN! We wish them well with the new product, but most of OUR content comes from YOU!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. As someone who often longs for the “good old days,” sounds like the comments of the Guardian on the effort of The Statesman to return to the designs of its past ought to be welcome news for all of us old timers. I’m anxious to see if it works! (Let us Blog readers know what you think in, say, mid-May when the transition is a month old).

  2. I got some Bad news for the Statesman…TELEVISION, INTERNET, and BLOGS are not going away, and they are still going to lose market share…. It’s just a fact!

  3. It’s true, the print news market is getting sparse. I don’t get The Statesman because when I did get it, I never read the darn thing.

  4. Comments overheard in some of Boises most secret spots:

    “Guardian has the best POOP on planet Boise!”

    “Dude, check out the poop on It totally rocks.”

    “I don’t need no stinkin Statesman poop, poop smears the competition”

    ” You should stop consuming “liberal media” poop, and try some poop.

    Well there it is folks, straight from Boise’s soft underbelly

  5. Here’s a challenge for your sleuthing skills, GUARDIAN: try to find a newspaper, anywhere in the U.S. of A., that’s more expensive, delivered, than the Statesman.

    (Several years back, I wrote a letter to the editor, making that same challenge. To their credit, they published the letter. But there was never a response.)

    The Statesman is currently $3.60 per week (7 day delivery).

    By comparison:
    Deseret News (SLC) $3.32/week
    Oregonian (Portland) $3.50/week
    Spokesman-Review (Spokane) $14.50/month ($3.35/week)
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer $3.40/week
    Seattle Times (ditto)
    Denver Post $2.30/week (when paying for 13 weeks)

    (I looked for “standard” rates at the big-city papers – NY Times, L.A. Times, etc. All I could find were introductory rates. I’m speculating it’s NEVER more than The Statesman.)

    Is it the quality of the product? Or the lack of competition? (As newsprint continues to lose its significance, their market share will continue to decrease, I predict.)

  6. You guys are hilarious. If the Statesman or other newspapers ceased to exist, how would the bloggers, radio, or TV news get their information?

    Just look at this blog. It seems that half of the things written about come from The Statesman, or most recently Thrive. Boise’s public radio station basically just reads copy from the Statesman each morning. I even saw a Channel 7 reporter carrying around a copy of the paper under his arm while reporting at The Statehouse.

    No one does the kind of original reporting newspapers do, Statesman included. Because of this, they’ll be here for years to come.

    ED NOTE–We do little original reporting. We are a blog/commentary and don’t pretend to be much else. You must admit the Statesman refused to mention a single word about the 1st amendment story on Dwight Scarbrough and the homeland security hassle over signs.

  7. Look, I didn’t say the Statesman was perfect, and I certainly can’t defend every decision they make . But if they went away all of you, and as anyone who cares about the general workings of the city and state, would be screwed.

    My suggestion is instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, write letters to the editor and make constructive suggestions. Be an active reader. Because Boise and Idaho would be worse off without the Statesman, and that is a fact.

    ED NOTE–John, check out some previous comments. I agree with you we need a good newspaper, the Statesman is all we have, and the rest of the media follows their lead.

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