Home > Comings and goings, Industry stuff > New Nanaimo Daily editor preaches balance, urges journos to avoid socialist urges

New Nanaimo Daily editor preaches balance, urges journos to avoid socialist urges

December 11, 2012

Mark MacDonald, the new managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News, has some interesting ideas about how to fix the daily news business.

Find below a three page document titled “Restoring Daily Newspapers to Prominence” in which MacDonald advocates his strategies for helping daily papers survive.

Please read the whole thing. I’ve pulled out some snippets of particular interest.

“The three most important words in the newspaper business are: Local, local, local.”

“There are many ways our papers can obtain news without increasing costs. As you can see by this list, these are not necessarily new ideas:””Use advertising staff to bring in editorial leads. What better way to put their clients and prospective clients in the news and give them a reason to read? Simply pass on news to an editorial person who would compile a “People” column that ran regularly. People LOVE gossip – the daily needs that to some degree to make it a must read.”

“Community/neighbourhood columnists.”

“Sports organization leaders who want to share.”

“Increased yield from existing news staffers. If a lengthy interview takes an hour and it takes an hour to write, that’s four substantial length stories in a typical working day. And it’s a reasonable work place.”
“Having sat in a newsroom for many years, I know the culture well. More than once, we watched the next days’ [sic] front page story walk past our desks. I understand how a veteran news writer, faced with bundling up and going out to fight the elements i search of a meaty, story, could see the “relevance” of the one that just walked by his or her desk in a warm, dry office.”

…..

“Either balance out all stories, or don’t balance them out at all and let the topic have its say. If you can’t have both side of an issue covered and represented respectfully, don’t have either.

“For example, if there is a new mine being considered for an area, the writers cover the topic, then contact someone opposed to ‘bring balance’ to the story. When an opponent is contacted, a proponent should be also, to give balance.”

“Existing union contracts can be onerous and unworkable and even though workers believe this gives them job security, it is in fact crippling the industry and making it unprofitable. The union needs to realize this and be willing to make alterations for their long-term profit.”

……

“Most papers lean to the left editorially, or at least are lukewarm to business interests. Typical journalists don’t understand business, how business operates successfully, or how their owners think. Newspaper owners must share part of the blame for the left leaning tendencies of typical media, in that they’ve abrogated responsibility for hiring news staff to editors, many of whom are sympathetic to the socialist cause. Of course there are some positive aspects of socialism, but they shouldn’t dominate the editorial flavor [sic] of the paper.

“Newspapers need not become “right wing rags”. That is counter-productive, and not indicative of a community building meeting place for citizens. It is not a fair representation of the community at large. But they do need ballance.”

……

While I will refrain from commenting, please feel free to weigh in below…

Note: If you’re having trouble viewing them, click on these three links and zoom in. You can do this on most browsers by pressing the CTRL and + buttons at the same time. I think on Macs it’s the apple button instead of the CTRL.

Page 1; page 2; page 3

NDNpage1 NDNpage2NDNPage3

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  1. On the Sly
    December 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Sounds like Mark M. will be the best thing that ever happened to his competitors.

  2. johnk
    December 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

    As editor at the Daily News (Free Press) 93-96 I found the reason subscriptions were dropping was 1) no time to read, 2) too many papers piling up, 3) too many other info sources, and 4) no desire to spend the money. I doubt that has changed much. The issue was never not enough cheesy local news content. Rather, it was the opposite, that community newspapers were supplying that in good amounts for free. So I think Mark may be setting out a manifesto to correct a non-existent problem (I find it interesting that every point of his rebuilding of the daily is tried-and-trued territory of every community newspaper in since the 1970s). Not to mention that the daily’s sports dept. does nothing other than local sports, so I’m not sure what Mark’s strategy will be when he finds his staff already filling his goal. As far as quantity obviously at the expense of quality, hopefully Mark will find that issues truly of importance, such as the Colliery Dam that spark emotion, debate and public action, require careful thought and consideration to present — that is, journalistic craftsmanship. This is the one thing the daily can do well over all other news sources, and to degrade that to feed an arbitrary goal of quantity will be risking the foundation of the product. In other words, with due respect to mark, this rather than being the enlightened vision of an outsider with an unfettered fresh viewpoint, appears rather more the playbook of a new head coach that has never set foot on a football field before. Good luck, Mark. Cheers, John K.

  3. SalishSeaSam
    December 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Well, my first reaction is the guy needs a good editor. I could have gotten all that twaddle down to a 150-word box for Pg 13. But the NDN never did have a good grasp on what it took to be a good editor, and leader of the troops. This paper has been irrelevant for so long it would be a shame to give it any more thought. So I won’t.

  4. December 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    This is a Hugh Nicholson hire. Check out his record. Enough said, don’t you think, Glacier?

  5. Bentley
    December 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    As an editor, shouldn’t you be able to spell and punctuate correctly? Also, how can he generalize about journalists not having any idea about business? Would he say that Jack Webster or Peter Mansbridge are without mental capacity to understand business? These people went to journalism school, something which Mark MacDonald did not! Also, how does he expect these journalists to write four stories a day if it takes one hour to interview and one hour to write it? How about travel, research, and reading reports/statistics? Don’t these poor people get a lunch or coffee break? How about their evenings and days off? Are they expected to work those too?

  6. George
    December 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Some background on him here: http://www.markmacdonaldnanaimo.ca/index.php?page=2

    “Mark ran for the B.C. Liberal nomination in 2005 for Nanaimo-Parksville, and has served on the Nanaimo riding constituency board in a number of positions over the years. He is currently a member of the B.C. Citizens for Green Energy commitee (sic).”

    • joe
      December 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Interesting re. the green energy group and his comments re. letters to the editor. I’m pretty sure members of that green energy groups are responsible for a bunch of politically motivated letters to the editor sent to dozens of B.C. community newspapers.

  7. December 12, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for reminding me why I never read the Nanaimo Daily News.

  8. Watson
    December 12, 2012 at 12:29 am

    What a JOKE!! Mark MacDonald’s language skills are atrocious. I’m glad, however, that he doesn’t want to turn the NDN into a “right wing rag”. HA! Once he’s done union-busting, hiring “volunteer news gatherers” and, ahem, “ballancing” (sic) it will simply be a right wing laughing stock. A sad day for journalism.

  9. Danny
    December 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    He’s the reason I cancelled my subscription.

  10. December 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Is there a link so that I can read the whole thing? The embedded images are unreadable.

    • December 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      See update in one second.

  11. once an NDN scribbler
    December 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    What an idiot.

  12. Andy
    December 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I love how the Remove Editorializing section that suggests getting rid of removing inflammatory rhetoric is immediately followed by an endorsement of Don Cherry and expressing strong opinions.

  13. Nicole
    December 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I just can’t get enough of this. This guy lacks a junior high-level grasp of basic punctuation, capitalization, grammar and sentence structure. I especially like this advice: “Let (sources) see (the story) before it runs …” WHAT?!?

  14. Nicole
    December 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I admire that company’s moxie. They wisely sought to avoid the common pitfalls of finding and hiring some sort of experienced “journalist” as editor and instead bestowed the title on an old Chamber president whose main qualification seems to have been running an unread business newsletter. That he has such clear contempt for the craft and preaches about Jesus on the side is just gravy.

  15. Joe
    December 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I don’t understand the anecdote about watching the next day’s front page walk past his desk. Also, I’m really glad I don’t work there.

  16. Glacier guy
    December 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    “Reporters should have stories assigned to them by Sales and stop being so damn lazy.” Somehow I don’t think misspelled or randomly capitalized words are the answer to our problems either.

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