Ah the wonderful world of blogs, where you can post your eighteen inch story on East Bay Express editor Stephen Buel using only a few inches of bullet points, hurray! I'll post the full story in the the last installment just for yucks. And heck - yucks aside, the main reason for journaling, more recently known as "blogging", is to have a record of how far your work has come since the days of your first news writing class.
Lede: "Stephen Buel of the East Bay Express had an impressive number for journalism students last night: Since he became editor in 2001, circulation jumped 40%. Audit Bureau of Circulations’ records confirm that rate, along with declines for The Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News."
Questions popping in head, which I didn't have time to research: is this a trend for alt newsweeklies? Are they the place for quality reporting, given the Williamette Week's Pulitzer, the fifth ever awarded to an alternative weekly? Deadlines are sacred, the teacher says, so these and many more are left unanswered for today.
So, what is behind that impressive number Buel dropped at the very end of his class appearance? Well looking back at our notes we can glean a few clues:
- format and distribution mechanics,
- content on under-reported areas and topics, and
- (maybe) the winning combo of seasoned newsman with practical business sense that is Buel himself. (sound too kiss-ass? yeah...could be.)
- 2001 New Times Inc. bought EBX February 2001. Converted from quarter-folded format to tabloid June 2001. It's a trend: SF Examiner, Christian Science Monitor, and others, doing the same.
- 2001 New Times provides EBX with their first ever free standing news racks in bright yellow by the hundreds. (Sounds like a duh! move to me. New Times has the money, not everyone does.)
- 2002 Art Director Mark Gartland gives EBX "cleaner, brighter, punchier" new cover, having an "immediate impact" on circulation. Buel: cover design's influence on circulation "cannot be overstated"
- Circulation Editor Weslie Chung, Buel praises this "outstanding" guy twice. Free papers can boost circulation just by printing more papers. Buel: "The reduction of our return rate from 11 percent to 3.5 at the same time that our circulation was increasing from 62,000 [in 2001] to 87,000 is indeed very remarkable." (how long did it take to memorize that sentence, and make it sound casual? I kid, he was actually quite cool, and very straight forward. Also his clothes were not wrinkled. Not saying that's unusual.)
Part 1. Mechanics
Coming soon: parts 2 (content) and 3 (editor's personality). Also: the whole written story, in non-bulletted format. And maybe a part 4 (all other factors I couldn't squeeze into eighteen inches.)