Several years ago, the Standard-Examiner decided our news focus should be what we call hyper-local. That is, we committed our resources to providing as broad and deep coverage as possible about the people, cities and towns in the Top of Utah.
The concept goes by other names in other places -- local-local news is a popular one -- but the idea is still the same.
It seemed the logical thing to do, given the explosive growth of other avenues that consumers can use to access news. The days when print media were the first to provide news about events across the nation or across the ocean were long gone.
Why not concentrate our efforts on where we did have an edge, our own backyard?
By extension, our strong local emphasis also means some national and international stories that once merited front-page play in print now appear inside the paper.
Frankly, some news traditionalists, both readers and staff, had trouble with the change. And we still hear periodically from readers who feel a particular national or international story deserves front-page, not inside-the-paper, play.
Interestingly enough, these readers often know all about the story when they call, so it's not a matter that they haven't seen it or they lack knowledge about what happened.
Rather, it's more a philosophical bent that says important national and international stories belong on a newspaper's front page.
National stories still do get on the front page -- see Warren Jeffs' conviction on Friday's front page, for example -- but those stories tend to be ones with local ties or specific local interest.
Despite the naysayers, the emphasis on local news coverage is working for us, as shown by circulation and readership, both at an all-time high.
That's why I found a survey in Advertising Week particularly interesting.
One of the questions asked was, "What is the main reason you subscribe to a local newspaper?"
- Local news: 49.6 percent.
- Coupons: 21 percent.
- National/international news: 14 percent.
- Habit: 7 percent.
- Other reasons: 4 percent.
- Obituaries: 3 percent.
Another question asked respondents to rank all the reasons they subscribed to a local newspaper. The top reason: local news, mentioned by 85 percent. Second was national/international news at 58 percent.
You don't have to be in this business very long before you realize that people buy your product for a lot of different reasons. And, as ego-shattering as it may be, they don't all revolve around the brilliant story you wrote or the great photo that dominates the front page.
Nonetheless, it's good to see, both in our own results and the broader survey, that local news still resonates with readers.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.