story & photo
by Jessica Warzeniak
Members of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT enjoyed an afternoon at The Day as part of the Chamber’s Leadership Program, Thursday, March 12th. Part of the experience featured a panel of media reps discussing the changes and challenges of media today. The speakers included the Resident’s very own, Alexis Ann, editor & publisher, Tony Cronin, business editor, The Day, Harriet Jones, business reporter, WNPR, and Kirk Varner, VP and director of news, WTNH and MyTV9.
The panelists agreed with Alexis that, “Media has come full circle, going back to its roots of being an outlet for local news.”
“What’s the definition of local?” asked Kirk. “It could be CT or New Haven. Is the news perspective different in Groton than in New London? Yes! Local is in terms of relevance to our consumers… It isn’t always about the crowd, about the biggest ring [on a target]. It’s the things that affect you the most in your world. Then you can go back out to the outer rings and add statistics.”
Newspapers originated as a way to communicate local gossip. “People like reading about people,” said Alexis. “That’s what the Resident started out doing in 1990 and that is what we’ll continue to do. Community papers have longevity in the market.”
“The biggest challenges [for daily newspapers] are falling circulation, falling advertising, changing reader habits, interactive websites, and a severe recession. Most of our advertising comes from the automotive and real estate industries – the two hardest hit,” said Tony. The Day is tackling these challenges by focusing more on local news and becoming more interactive on the web. Kirk and Harriet agreed that TV and radio are following the same plan.
With news sources available every second of the day, people are making their choices based on what is relevant to them. “What’s our niche? What do we do that no one else does? What makes us unique? We are all competing for your time… We need to be what you won’t get from CNN, the New York Times, or NPR,” said Kirk. “That’s the future!”
“We are doing a mix of National NPR and what we produce locally,” said Harriet. “We are doing a lot more local than we ever did.”
An important point is that the news can’t happen without interaction from the readers/ viewers/listeners. “For all of us, a large part of what we do is driven by you,” said Kirk. “We rely on people to tell us what’s going on. The bulk of our stories begin with ‘Hey, did ya know?’ We’re all bottomless pits looking for stories to cover.”