Home > Writing > Copy this idea: Kamloops Daily News edition (updated w/ comment)

Copy this idea: Kamloops Daily News edition (updated w/ comment)

March 4, 2011

A good reporter knows to follow his or her own curiosity to dig up good stories. Whenever you find yourself puzzling over something unexplained phenomenon in your town, there’s a pretty good chance a half-decent story isn’t too far away.

When one person has a question, it’s a good chance many others are wondering the same thing. The Kamloops Daily News has taken that idea to a new (or, at least, newish) level by asking reader’s to write in with their curious questions about life in the city.

The best of those questions are handed off to KDN reporter/associate editor Catherine Litt for a regular “Reader’s Reporter” column.

The questions often result in interesting stories, even about dry topics (See Jan. 4’s “Why use such big gravel on the highway?“)

Of course, any newspaper anywhere can copy the idea. The feature is not only interesting and (seems) relatively easy to produce, but it’s also a great way to create a sense of community ownership in a newspaper.

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P.S. Catherine comments below:

Our Q&A feature under the Reader’s Reporter banner has proven to be a real success with our readership. Not a week goes by without someone mentioning to me that they look forward to reading the Q&As.

By the way, this idea isn’t new. There is at least one newspaper in the U.S. that’s been doing a similar thing for a few years now, again with success. About a year ago, I brought the concept to our editor, Mel Rothenburger; he loved it and gave me the go-ahead to put it under our already established Reader’s Reporter department.

In all honesty, he deserves a lot of credit for buying into such a ‘seemingly’ non-journalism concept. Colleagues of mine rolled their eyes at the idea. I think the perception was that so-called serious journalists shouldn’t be wasting time hunting down answers to questions about highway gravel. They’ve warmed to the idea since.

Anyway, I would certainly encourage other papers in B.C. to copy the idea. If they’re lucky like I was, they’ll have an editor who is open-minded and eager to try new ways of reaching out to readers.
–Catherine
p.s. Thanks for taking notice of our little Q&A feature.

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  1. March 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

    When I was first starting out in my journalism career I used to write a similar column, answering questions from readers of The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. (Here’s a link to the current columns: http://bit.ly/h1C0SI) It was always amusing to learn what the community was curious about: usually new businesses, potholes, traffic lights and what to do about neighbors who don’t shovel their snow or mow the lawn. I think my favorite one though was How many lights are on such and such bridge? Funny the things you remember looking back. It was, however, great training for a young reporter. I quickly developed sources and learned about my new community. Perhaps too much!

  2. March 6, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I remember in the 1990s the now-defunct Prince Rupert This Week did a similar you-ask-we-investigate column. I think it was called The WHY Files. But it might have been The ‘Y’ Files since TV’s X Files were big then and there were some Gillian Anderson fans on staff.

    I always thought it was a good idea.

  3. Catherine Litt
    March 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Our Q&A feature under the Reader’s Reporter banner has proven to be a real success with our readership. Not a week goes by without someone mentioning to me that they look forward to reading the Q&As.
    By the way, this idea isn’t new. There is at least one newspaper in the U.S. that’s been doing a similar thing for a few years now, again with success. About a year ago, I brought the concept to our editor, Mel Rothenburger; he loved it and gave me the go-ahead to put it under our already established Reader’s Reporter department.
    In all honesty, he deserves a lot of credit for buying into such a ‘seemingly’ non-journalism concept. Colleagues of mine rolled their eyes at the idea. I think the perception was that so-called serious journalists shouldn’t be wasting time hunting down answers to questions about highway gravel. They’ve warmed to the idea since.
    Anyway, I would certainly encourage other papers in B.C. to copy the idea. If they’re lucky like I was, they’ll have an editor who is open-minded and eager to try new ways of reaching out to readers.
    –Catherine
    p.s. Thanks for taking notice of our little Q&A feature.

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