Dear Reader | New year rings in many news coverage resolutions

12/31/2012 7:06 PM

12/31/2012 10:52 PM

Whether you call them resolutions or goals, it can be useful to decide, as a wise mentor often says, what you want to be famous for in the next year.

For a news staff, that might seem like a simple task, and in a way, it is. A colleague at another newspaper once summed it up in a scribbled note meant to poke fun at the consultant who was posing a similar question 20-plus years ago. “Cover the news,” he wrote, with multiple exclamation points at the end meant to convey his sarcasm.

But one person’s news can be another’s rubbish, as our commenters, callers and emailers make clear.

Rarely does a week go by that I don’t hear from a Clemson fan complaining that we have too much USC sports coverage, and from a USC fan that says we are all clearly Clemson grads. For the record, no members of the small but hardy crew that determines our sports coverage went to either university.

The wonder of web news makes it possible to see exactly how many people have clicked on an article, which could lead one to believe that the higher the “clicks,” the more important the topic.

I’m not ready to declare that our goal for next year will be to chase down every weird crime story that earns itself a police report. Still, as a former cops reporter myself, I know that public safety, if not weird crime, is of vital interest to our communities.

So our challenge is to set our coverage priorities and use those to determine specific, measurable goals for 2013. And while we are still finalizing all the whats – and more importantly, the hows – I want to share some of our thinking.

We will be refocusing our coverage based on topics that most impact the lives of our readers so that we can help them maneuver an ever-more-complicated world. Some of those complications are caused by technology, and in 2013 we aim to use the new technology to provide more and different types of coverage online.

The buzz word is “multimedia,” which can mean any number of things. Our goal is to use tools such as video and databases and mapping to provide deeper layers for our most far-reaching work.

To use a facetious example (don’t want to give anything away to our competition, after all) we might take an in-depth look at the world of a Myrtle Beach Boardwalk airbrush artist. It could include a Q&A interview, video of them creating their work, a photo gallery of the work and those who purchase it and a database comparing average salaries for airbrush artists across the eastern seaboard to show whether we were indeed offering the best and brightest of artists to our tourism clientele.

We also want to interact more with our readers, through social media, blogs, co-sponsoring events in the community and old-fashioned face-to-face meetings.

Let me kick that effort off now. Let me know what you want us to keep doing, do more of or do less of. You won’t all agree on those things, and even if you did, we wouldn’t be able to do them all. But however divergent, your views can provide important balance as we seek the right path.

Meanwhile, here’s one resolution I suspect most of us share: A desire not to hear the phrase “fiscal cliff” again in 2013.

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