GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – It’s a journalist’s job to ask questions, but they’re usually aimed at outsiders. At the News & Record, a 93,000-daily circulation newspaper in Greensboro, reporters and editors are asking tough questions about the paper itself. The biggest questions: If the paper needs to change to survive, what changes should be made? What can it do, especially online, to make itself the electronic equivalent of a town square?
Seeking the answers, the paper has launched an audacious online experiment.
The News & Record’s Web site features 11 staff-written Web journals, or blogs, including one by the editor that answers readers’ questions, addresses their criticisms and discusses how the paper is run.
That puts the paper way ahead of even much larger news organizations. The News & Record’s blogs range from “just-the-facts, ma’am,” to slightly spicy.
There’s a page for reader-submitted articles, another for letters to the editor and an online tips’ form. The Web site hosts online forums on 23 topics, including safety at a local high school, FedEx Corp. (FDX)’s move to the area and cameras at local stoplights. Traffic cams monitor local road conditions.
The site posts up-to-date public records on property ownership, marriages and divorce.
“When the paper’s overhaul is complete, it may be a model for the sort of 21st century paper that many journalism big thinkers have been talking about, chewing over, and confabbing on for the last few years,” wrote the industry-watching magazine Editor & Publisher. “Greensboro will be the first place where this conceptually newfangled newspaper actually exists.”