When an Air Force plane crashed into a rural farm field earlier this year, the news rippled across the state.
Was anyone injured? Was it piloted or unmanned? What caused the crash?
Turns out it was an unmanned aircraft. Nobody was onboard and nobody was hurt on the ground. We still don't know what caused the mishap.
But the crash still serves as another example of how news coverage has changed in recent years and adapted to the new technologies that so many of us rely upon for our everyday lives.
The crash occurred the morning of Aug. 6, about 4 miles north of Grand Forks Air Force Base. We broke the story that morning, with a short piece, maybe 100 words. Over the course of the next few hours, it emerged as a full news story, with photos and comments. Subsequent coverage came in the days that followed.
We lost track of how many times that story was updated and reposted on the Herald’s website – maybe four, five or more, each with a little more information and depth.
Nobody in the media enjoys covering bad news, yet we know that covering breaking news, at any hour, is part of the gig. We also know it’s what our customers expect when they purchase a membership with the Herald or any Forum Communications Co. newspaper.
Whether it’s a sad event, good news – million-dollar donations last week at UND, for instance – or late-night sports, technology has brought a revolution to media coverage. It’s a revolution that is important for news consumers.
Yes, we have heard from customers who long for the days when newspapers were delivered to their door seven mornings a week. Unfortunately, we – and many other media companies – have found that it’s neither financially feasible nor conducive to the future of this industry to continue with that business model. The Herald and other newspapers in our company made the leap last year, trimming our delivery days to two. We now embrace a digital-first approach to news coverage.
We still feel the print editions are important, and we fill those two editions with news that’s important to the everyday lives of our subscribers. But due to early deadlines and the time it takes to print an edition and deliver it to a mailbox, the print editions don’t necessarily break news anymore.
That’s where our website, our e-edition and our social media feeds come in. We’re able to instantly post news on our website. We post our coverage of evening meetings and sports events immediately after their conclusion.
We send out alerts when we post our most important news and sports. Readers who are paying attention can follow along as we update impactful stories throughout a news cycle. Later versions of stories often include more quotes, more sources and more of what we call “color.” They usually include additional photos and, sometimes, video or audio clips that help explain the story more thoroughly.
Nowhere is this more apparent than our sports coverage. Our UND hockey coverage, for example, includes a live “game center” that updates every time a goal is scored. Video is added throughout the night, too, and stars of the game are highlighted.
Hockey reporter Brad Schlossman writes a story immediately upon the game’s conclusion – it’s called a “gamer” in our biz – and he often writes one or two more stories deep into the night.
In the days of print-only delivery, that wasn’t happening. Once the deadline hit, the gamer – and sometimes an accompanying sidebar – was put on the page and sent to the pressroom, concluding that day’s coverage.
And while many readers miss the newspaper industry’s traditional schedule and business model, it’s safe to say that our new approach is providing coverage that is more expansive, more up-to-the-minute and more thorough than it ever has been.
Consider joining us. A digital subscription allows unlimited access not only to Grand Forks Herald content, but content throughout the Forum Communications Co. network. And for those who miss the regular morning edition, your membership also allows access to our daily e-edition – not just the Herald’s morning e-edition (which looks just like the traditional printed paper) but also the e-editions of all Forum Communications Co. newspapers.
Check out the latest offers at grandforksherald.com/subscribe.
Once readers get used to it, watching stories develop over the course of a day or two can be fascinating, and even a bit addictive.
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.