Nearly three years ago, when I became the editor of The Leader, one of my first objectives was to make us operate more like a daily news organization than a weekly.
My previous 20 years as a journalist had been spent at daily newspapers, so I was wired to work that way and had long developed a passion for reporting news before my competitors. But at the time, theleadernews.com was less a place to go for fresh, up-to-date information than it was a collection of stories and photos that already had been circulated in print.
The website was being updated once per week, after the print edition had been put together. So even for the most engaged members of communities such as the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest, there was little incentive for readers to visit us online more than once per week, let alone daily.
So I made it a point to change that, pretty much immediately. Our small staff began posting our most pressing and timely stories online and sharing them on our social media channels as soon as they were compiled, edited and vetted for accuracy, while a few stories were saved and scheduled to appear over the weekend, when we would all be at home with our families instead of at the office.
The result was a steady, daily flow of news for our online audience, which responded quickly and overwhelmingly. Our online page views doubled during my second month at the helm, and they have continued to gradually climb ever since.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about our website in the print edition of The Leader. As publisher Jonathan McElvy regularly reminds me, there is one group of people who reads our newspaper and another who gets their news from theleadernews.com.
But much like we applied my daily philosophy to our weekly operation, we also want to bridge the gap between our print and digital audiences. You can read the paper on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday while still visiting us online on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Which brings me to an exciting announcement – more of an introduction, really. We recently unveiled The Leader Daily Newsletter, which is another step toward becoming an everyday source of valuable community news instead of something you see and appreciate only once per week.
We used to email a newsletter once per week that included a collection of stories from that week’s print edition (sound familiar?), but nearly three weeks ago we started sending them out every weekday morning. And we changed the format, too.
We provide a collection of “Today’s top headlines,” which are quick-hit synopses of the most important, timely and compelling local news of the day, followed by more information, photos and in some cases videos that are related to those storylines. And we link not only to the news that’s already on our website, theleadernews.com, but also to other local news outlets and authoritative sources of information.
Because even if you like getting your community news from a variety of sources – as the most well-informed citizens do – we want you to come to us first. To borrow an analogy from my sportswriting days, we at The Leader are the reliable, level-headed quarterback who knows when to pass, hand off the ball or keep it himself.
But we’re not much concerned with giving away the secrets of our playbook, which is why we also use the newsletter to tell you what we’re working on and which stories you can expect to read in the coming days. Keeping you informed and engaged in your community is our overarching goal, just like it has been since The Leader was first published 67 years ago.
And don’t worry, loyal Leader readers. Our weekly print product remains our bread and butter. It’s how we’ve built our reputation and enamored ourselves to the community we serve, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
We just want to continue to diversify, improve and adapt in a world that has shifted more and more to a digital realm, because the internet isn’t going anywhere either.
It’s been fun to create the weekday newsletters, which are appealing to the eye and more conversational than formal. It’s also been exhilarating to engage our community in a new way as we’ve gotten good feedback from readers who initially subscribed to our weekly newsletter and are now getting daily doses of information and insight.
So we invite you to come along for the ride by subscribing to the new-and-improved newsletter, which is free just like our paper and our website, and we’ll make doing so especially easy for you. Just send an email to email@example.com, saying you’d like to be added to our delivery list, and we’ll get you signed up.
You also can subscribe by entering your email address on the homepage of our website, theleadernews.com, where it says, “SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter!”
And I encourage you to go ahead and do that today. As we at The Leader have discovered in recent years, there’s no need to wait for a week to go by.