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Denise Davy

I don’t have a 15-inch steel-edged ruler like Paul Wilson but I have been here long enough to have heard the same ideas go around more than once.
Yes, we need to be more relevant to readers. We need to write tighter. And we need to put people back into our stories.
Sidebars and graphics, yes, yes, they’d help make the paper more reader friendly.
So here’s the question - if they’re such good ideas and they’ve been brought to the table time and time again, why aren’t we simply implementing them?
Maybe the problem is more about the process by which we deliver the news than the content (although that needs some tweaking, too.)
In other words, maybe we need to ask:
- how are stories being assigned?
- should we look at covering neighbourhoods rather than beats?
- how, at the end of the day, we can Maestro (remember that idea?) it all together to make sure there are sidebars and graphics in there?
- how much do we really welcome story ideas from all our reporters?
- how much are we pushing for people stories?
Tools and Training is working on bringing in a speaker to talk about writing short well. That’s a start.
But we also need to look at the process and how stories are being managed.
Now, for content.
1. Health.
We need more of it. According to Roger’s presentation, our target readers are boomers between 42 and 60 who think of themselves as 12 years younger, on average.
For most, health is a key issue. The Globe knows this and responded by setting up an entire page for health stories.
Joanna does a great job (in only three days!) of keeping us posted on new studies and she does it in a way that makes it relevant to readers. (read her recent story stating there’s more cancer and heart disease here than anywhere in Ontario).
We need more. If we’ve got more pages for local news, we should dedicate part of one of those pages to health stories.
2. Environment.
Many, many studies have stated the environment will be the most important issue of the next decade.
In Hamilton, land of soot-covered patio tables and high asthma rates, it’s an extremely inportant issue. We should respond with more stories that examine the pressing local environmental issues and show how readers are effected.
3. City Hall.
People count on us to tell them what’s going on down at the hall and how it matters to them.
It’s really difficult to dig into those stories with only one reporter. Nicole does her best but we need two sets of eyes to keep on top of the meetings and show our taxpayer/readers how those changes effect them.
4. Surprise us.
In addition to the regular menu of news, let’s throw in a few surprises. For example, for our poverty project what about a Diary of a Single mom, written by a local mom. Or stories written in a Q and A format. Or the occassional Vignette. Or a regular Facts and Arguments-style column by readers.
5. Move Paul Wilson back to the A section. It’s a fit.
6.Finally, read the content review report by Mary, Rob, Joan and Scott. It’s worth it.

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