Sunday, August 20, 2006

Linking Raleigh and Charlotte

Ted Vaden, the News & Observer's excellent public editor, has a piece today that describes increasing cooperation between the N&O and their new cousins in Charlotte. He also asks whether this will be good for readers and decides that it probably will be, in the main.

We'll be talking a lot about sharing and cooperation in Ft Worth Tuesday. You might want to look at the Vaden column here.
–Howard Weaver


  1. Speaking from Charlotte's perspective, we've seen far more pluses than minuses to this point. Virtually all of the stories we've run from Raleigh were stories we would not have staffed on our own. That's all gravy for our readers. On rare occasions, we've discovered we're pursuing the same story. If we see an advantage to readers to remain competitive, we go that route. If we sense that we are simply duplicating, we talk out a plan to cooperate. Case in point: Last month, we discovered that both papers planned to accompany the same National Guard unit that was being dispatched to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico. After some discussion, we agreed to pick up Raleigh's story and photos rather than take essentially the same trip. That allowed the reporter we planned to send to do something else important for us. This is the same logic we use when we discover AP is covering something we had planned to staff. Depending on the story, we sometimes decide to use AP's coverage, freeing us to do something else.

  2. We've seen many benefits and few downsides to sharing in-cycle content. Rick and I met early on and agreed that our guiding question would be this: Which approach serves readers best? If The Observer has a scoop that matters to N&O readers, I"d rather have it right away. We credit the originating newspaper.

    Charlotte and Raleigh are 180 miles apart with no overlapping circulation and no advertising competition between the two operations. Each of us has intense local competition -- for audience and ad dollars, that is -- and for my part, I'll use every resource I can to be the leading media choice in our market.

    The N&O and The Observer each tends to focus on its own region, so even when we cover some of the same topics we localize them and have different takes.

    Ted's column captured an old paradigm: journalistic success means beating the other reporter. But The Charlotte Observer is not our competition at The N&O, and chances are we're going to be better equipped to fight our wars on home turf now that we're working together. Because our coverage has only overlapped in a couple of areas, that's adding up more to extension -- giving us their NFL and NASCAR coverage, where we have no staffing, for instance -- than elimination of coverage.