If you subscribe to the Courier-Journal—or if you regularly purchase the Sunday edition—perhaps you noticed the USA Today insert. (Or perhaps you noticed the paper’s employees tweeting about it the week before.) That’s Day 1 of a new era for Louisville’s only daily newspaper.
The insert of another Gannett-owned property—with its expanded coverage of national news—means more room for local news in section A, and that is good news for Louisville. As I argued back in October, when I took The C-J to task for the many changes that seemed to herald a decline, newspapers fulfill a unique role in the community and a renewed emphasis on local news is a step in the right direction.
Executive Editor Neil Budde told me that national stories with local impact (for instance, federal coal or tobacco regulations) will still be covered by local reporters and go on the front page, but national and international wire stories will all be in the separate USA Today section.
Budde also said that the Neighborhoods section will now be part of the daily paper every day except Sunday. There’s no intention to replace the Forum pages that were cut from the Monday and Tuesday editions, but Budde said that readers might expect to see another opinion column added soon.
Although the newsroom hired replacements for nearly all staff lost since the summer of 2013 (there’s still one Metro desk job to be filled), there are no current plans for additional hires.
Budde said that the current staff is looking to refocus on quality and depth, which means shooting and editing video only when it adds to the story, and not for its own sake.
Budde understands that his audience isn’t necessarily looking for autoplaying videos on every single story; what readers of both the print and digital products want is in-depth features with context and perspective that take more than a few hours to put together and that may require investments in technology, legal fees, and expensive travel to distant destinations.
“There’s not a lot of other organizations out there with the facilities and resources to pursue these kinds of stories,” he said.
That’s true, and there also aren’t a lot of other news organizations whose archives are preserved at the library as a public resource. There aren’t a lot of local news organizations who’ve earned national recognition for their reporting, photography and commentary. Every community needs a local newspaper committed to local news, and it sounds like The C-J is heading back in that direction.
James Miller is WFPL’s media critic and a journalism teacher at duPont Manual High School. You can find his past work here.