Our focus is local news – however one defines it
KAREN PETERSON; Executive editor
It sounds so simple: Our primary mission is to provide local news.
But our recent survey of area residents indicates it may be more complicated than that. It turns out, what’s “local” to one person may not be “local” to another.
We hired American Opinion Research to conduct hundreds of telephone and online interviews this fall with adults in our readership area. We surveyed both TNT readers and nonreaders, asking them dozens of questions about where they get their news and what they think about our products. The information will help us form a strategy for better serving readers.
Here was one of the questions: “When you think about the term ‘local’ news, do you generally think about news from
Here is how people responded:
• The Puget Sound area – 27 percent.
• The Seattle area – 16 percent.
• The South Sound – 12 percent.
• The Tacoma area – 16 percent.
• Your own and neighboring communities – 12 percent.
• Your local town/community – 10 percent.
• Other – 4 percent.
• Don’t know – 2 percent.
“Adults market-wide have a relatively regional view of local news,” our researchers reported. “More than 4 in 10 define it as the Puget Sound area or the Seattle area. Sixteen percent define local news as being from the Tacoma area. Only 10 percent define local as being from their community or town.”
Even when we singled out respondents from Pierce County, “the Puget Sound area” tied with “the Tacoma area” as their first choice. The South Sound and Seattle areas tied for third, with the fewest respondents defining “local” as their own town or neighboring communities.
Does that mean we’ll be shifting reporters out of Tacoma, Puyallup and other Pierce County communities to cover the greater Puget Sound area? Not at all.
Clearly, people here have an interest in news beyond the county line, but much of that is commodity news available from lots of sources. Through The Associated Press and our media partnerships, we can gather and share that news with readers. But we’ll keep our reporters focused on telling the stories that happen here because no one else is telling them. You can’t get them anywhere else.
And we may add a word to our primary mission: to provide unique local news.
If you’d like to tell us how you define local news, take the Hot Button poll at thenewstribune.com
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT
I love it when a reader e-mail or phone call starts with those four words. Generally, what comes next is a news tip.
Two great stories we published last week started with reader tips.
A Nov. 8 e-mail from reader Dave Churchman started like this: “Have you ever seen what a $466,666.67 parking spot looks like? Here are six of them. Right here in semi-rural Puyallup!”
Churchman included pictures of six cars parked in the Sound Transit lot in Puyallup that was upgraded at taxpayer expense to hold more than 200 cars.
The e-mail led East Pierce County reporter Sara Schilling to do her own reporting, which resulted in this headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Transit lot lacks cars: $3 million spent, but few commuters use it.”
On Tuesday, an e-mail from TNT Reader Panel member Craig Miller began, “Have you heard anything about copper thieves ransacking the copper wire in the control house of the Murray Morgan Bridge two weekends ago?”
We had not.
Reporter Rob Carson called the city and started asking questions. Our headlines in Thursday’s paper read: “Copper thieves jam bridge in place. Murray Morgan: Control mechanism damaged and can’t easily be repaired.” The cost to taxpayers will be as much as $300,000.
If you’d like to become an honorary TNT reporter, share your news tip by calling 253-597-8688 or e-mailing us at newstips@ thenewstribune.com
TV BOOK UPDATE
Our new, bigger Sunday TV book was a hit with readers last week. Comments to our reader representative were overwhelmingly positive. Readers said they liked the sports listings, movie capsules and 24-hour color grids, although some would like us to tone down the color. We’re working on that.
Even with two weeks left to sign up, more than 200 TNT subscribers who weren’t getting the TV book have decided to add the new version to their subscriptions. Call us at 1-800-289-8711 if you’d like to do the same.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434