On January 1 of this year, one of our newspapers, the Bossier Press-Tribune made a conscious decision to cease publishing Bossier Parish (county) bookings.
A couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from a very nice gentleman who asked “why?”
After all, “isn’t that what newspapers do?”
Yes. Some of them do.
It was at that moment that I realized the Bossier Press-Tribune isn’t a newspaper, at least not in the traditional sense.
The decision to cease the publication such items came from extensive meetings with my executive team. We spent time lining out our core values, writing a mission statement and reviewing our operations.
One of our core values was an intentional effort to improve the communities we serve. We wanted to take an active role in celebrating the good, and to improve things where we could.
During the course of the discussion, it was suggested that publishing the bookings didn’t line up with those values. The bookings were readily available via other publications and online, so those who wanted to view them should have little trouble doing so.
My father once told me that it is easy to point out problems. Anyone can do that. However, a real leader finds and implements solutions. As a community newspaper, we can offer solutions through our reporting and opinion articles.
The publication of bookings merely reflected the problems our citizens face — on both sides of the law. While they certainly showed that law enforcement was “doing its job,” that was about all it was accomplishing.
My explanation did little to help the reader who called. I admit, this line of thinking goes against the “If it bleeds, it leads” mentality in much of the news industry.
Please know that we still cover all newsworthy evens, especially those where the public’s interest or the public’s safety is at stake. All we are doing, is getting away from making crime and controversy a staple of the publication.
Leadership is about knowing your core values and sticking to them, even if conventional wisdom is going the other way. It is my hope this decision, and many more to come will accomplish the very thing we intended — better communities to serve.
Now that would be a lead story.
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