I was happy to see the Nevada City Advocate’s Web site finally make it up. It took a whole month after the launch of the newspaper.

Pat Butler, former editor of The Union and former news director at KNCO, is the editor and publisher. According to him, the Advocate will be going bi-weekly with their next issue Aug. 7 (?). As you may very well know, this revs up the competition in little old Western Nevada County.

These are all good things. Competition will only breed better journalism in the area, which is my chief concern. But there’s also been hoopla about whether or not The Union should write about the Advocate because it is a new business in the area. I thought about this. And then I thought about it some more. I came to a very simple conclusion: Who really cares?

While I think the media haters of the world get a rise out of the notion that there is some conceived news war taking place in their back yard, the notion that people actually care where they get their news from is false. People just want their unbiased, unfiltered, accurate news. That’s their No. 1. If The Union can’t fill that need, they’ll go somewhere else, possibly the Advocate. And if the Advocate can’t fill that need, I’m sure folks will turn somewhere else again. In the end, it’ll just lead to some healthy journalism. The people will win here. Isn’t that most important?

I think the the critique of this news competition will be best left to the blogosphere, where readers can judge among themselves who is getting the job done. Because writing about it, at least for the paper, would just take up valuable space for something far more important to readers of both the Advocate and The Union: news.

Anyways, Butler is supposedly only going to update the Web site on Tuesdays, going against the Web first culture of the modern newspaper. I don’t know if that will change with the announcement of going bi-weekly. The only newspaper that comes to mind with a comparable non-Web friendly policy is the Mountain Messenger — which coincidentally doesn’t have a Web site. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

7 thoughts on “Happy to peek at the competition

  1. I’m going to see if I can arm-twist the Mess. into posting at least their Nevada County stories to a blog.

    > “the notion that people actually care where they get their news from is false”

    But I bet they care where they _can_ get their news; knowing one’s options is helpful.

    It’s your paper though, so, your choice. But think about what would go through a Union reader’s mind, if s/he found out, months later, that there was another paper in town, that The Union hadn’t considered to be worth mentioning.

    (it hurts your brand, if your reader thinks it’s news, and you didn’t cover it)

  2. Anna,

    So far, readers haven’t called in complaining that we aren’t covering the new newspaper. Again, I don’t think they care about the business of media as much as they care about the news. Isn’t that an indication that the only people that really care about this are our critics? No amount of cackling is going to make them satisfied, so why worry. Hakuna matata.

  3. Zuri:

    You say ” … the only people that really care about this are our critics?”

    This raises the question of what a critic is?

    In your view, is a critic someone who merely wishes ill of the Union, or is it someone who wishes it well, and is offering “caring criticism.” The latter is at least conceivable to me. I trust you to know the difference.

    My own uninformed sense is that at least Anna’s comment above about your “brand” falls into the “caring criticism” category. If that’s true, then you might do well not to dismiss the idea of out of hand.

    I do wish you well, because the whole community benefits if The Union is the best newspaper that it can be.

    Don.

  4. I believe I was using the word critic with its most negative connotation. For some reason, I still fail to see how this will hurt the branding of The Union in the short run or the long run. Is a newspaper news or is the news news? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? As I said before, I think the commodity that is more valued is the news itself.

  5. Regarding this catty take on the Advocate’s website efforts — “It took a whole month after the launch of the newspaper.”

    That’s a pretty serious case of pot-kettle-blackitis there — the redesign/relaunch of The Union’s website some several months ago could hardly have been less ready for primetime, with many issues persisting to this day. Weren’t you one of the prime movers in that effort? Seems like bad form to criticize their efforts when your own travails in this regard are well-documented.

  6. Neil,

    Welcome to the conversation. As you may or may not know, my background is in journalism. I’m not a web developer and I do not have the skills to build a Web site like The Union’s or even the Advocate’s. I’m sure I could, but it would take a long time. Anyways, my point is I didn’t design or build TheUnion.com. I merely administer it. And no, it was not ready for primetime when it launched. In that sense, the Advocate is much better off even though it does not carry many features like The Union does. That was expected, although I was holding out for a surprise.

    I’d love to hear about your continued troubles on TheUnion.com, if you’re interested in sharing them. Shoot me an e-mail at zberry@theunion.com or just drop another comment. Either way, I’m listening.

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