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She couldn’t believe what happened next

December 7, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

He found a cardboard box; when he ripped it open, he was speechless.

She moved to Grenada. The reason why is shocking!

When you read these 19 shocking food facts, you'll never want to eat again.

Banks hate this secret new money trick.

See 25 movie stars from the 1960s and how they aged.

[gasp]

These are all examples of clickbait headlines. You know you shouldn't click, because you might lose intelligence points by reading. Your device's virus protection starts sweating before the pop up ads allow you to see the content you just had to see.

I do it, too, but more for allegedly just-discovered historical photos that will shock me. Sometimes I'm surprised.

As a reporter, I'm generally not too surprised by anything, and in an effort to stay even-handed, I?usually stick with the straight-on take.

I recently sat in on a webinar about increasing reader engagement, though. Some of the points included the fact that readers engage with long-form stories.

Our salespeople have even been told our stories are too short.

I find this incredibly hard to believe, because I am loquacious, and I'm working on my discipline of getting to the point.

We are urged to tell unique stories no one else has.

Use long-form and alternate story forms.

Create photo essays, galleries, audio and video online.

To be honest, some issues it's all we can do to get something in the paper and get it to you.

My recent story on hospice was brought to me by Avera Holy Family. It was great. It was difficult to stay dispassionate and in the moment, because Mrs. Friesner was such a great person to interview, and it's obvious Avera really cares about hospice patients and families.

It helps greatly when you send us story ideas; we can't be everywhere at once.

It helps when you help us run with the story, when we can get to know you and what the subject means to you.

We are working on our business reporting, looking into how new trends will affect living in our local economy.

It's not that we're all about hard news (not by a long shot; I'd love to have a beautiful front page feature every week, but that takes time and connection, the latter of which I'm still building).

Lifestyle topics (would you like to see food and dining, movie reviews, etc.?) I?search "Estherville"?and other Emmet County towns on Instagram to see what you all are up to. You can get my attention if you want us to capture your rural antics and great moments at @EvilleAmy

In these times, it's important to have news you can trust. David and I talk often about what more we can do, then get somewhat bogged down by routine and more.

Trends are not all bad. They lead to deeper stories.

In grad school, I became the queen of infographics. I have tried them a couple of times, but I hope to do more, connecting the facts and figures to help an important story take shape.

Our big question for 2017 and beyond is, how can we cover news in the way we need to, but also do things that are critical??

I've received thanks for government and court stories, while our sales people have had advertisers and readers wonder why we do so much of that.

I've received kudos on a simple story about an event at one of our local retirement communities, then we receive a note from a reader who wonders why we do so much of that.

There is a story about two people and a horse. In the version I've heard, it is about an old man taking his granddaughter to the city with his old horse.

First, the man led the horse on foot while the granddaughter rode, but passersby said, "Look at that young girl, making the old man walk while she rides."

Then the granddaughter took the reins on foot and let her grandfather ride. This time, people in the next town said, "Why does the grown man ride the horse while the little girl has to walk?"?

Then the grandfather and granddaughter both rode on the horse.

As you might have guessed, other people passed by and said, "Why do they burden that horse with two people?"?

Finally, grandfather and granddaughter both walked beside the horse. A fast moving buggy passed them, and its occupants shouted, "Look how foolish they are, walking when they have a horse!"?

We won't make everyone happy all the time, and the news won't be happy all the time, either.

What we can do is find the news and make it pop.

According to the webinar I attended, the sweet spot is long stories of 1,200-1,500 words, and those are the stories, when we squeeze them in, on which we receive the most comments.

Food and dining are the second most popular topic. I've completed light-hearted reviews in Our Hometown on the restaurants that advertise in our dining guide. We're looking for home cooks and other food topics, and sponsors to allow us to do more of these..

We've learned we need to have more conversation starters in our paper. Will you converse with us??

 
 
 

 

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