Phil Lewis: Placing a premium on quality content

Phil Lewis

A picture can be worth far more than a thousand words.

In newspaper terms, the good ones are thought-provoking, valuable contributions to our communities. The truly great ones are world-changing, thus priceless.

Each spring, the National Press Photographers Association invites a select group of accomplished newspaper and magazine veterans to Ohio University in Athens to select the year’s best examples of photojournalism.

This year, the group picked the Naples Daily News as the winner of the prestigious Best Use of Photography award.

The honor was for newspapers across the nation with under 75,000 year-round circulation. The New York Times won the honor for newspapers over 75,000 circulation.

Eric Strachan, our senior managing editor, and Michel Fortier, our director of visuals, were individually named by the press photographers group in announcing the annual award. But many in the newsroom share in the credit. “The best use of photography begins with great photography,” Strachan told me when he first heard we had won the award.

This isn’t the first time our photojournalism has been honored on the national level. In 2011, we were runner-up in the Best Use of Photography category. That same year we were a Pulitzer Prize finalist along with the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times for feature photography.

Although we are not obsessed with awards, we’d be less than honest if we said we don’t appreciate and treasure them. Such awards are a measure of quality. Our mission today, as much as any time in the past, is to provide quality news and information.

We believe great photography, exceptional reporting, insightful analysis and meaningful investigative journalism are vital to any community. We also believe the world is changing. We plan to change as well.

This past winter, we hired a research firm to survey Southwest Florida. We wanted to know more about our readers and our potential readers. We wanted to know what they are most interested in so we could better focus our news coverage. And we wanted to know how best to connect with them.

We learned how Southwest Floridians get their news and information. We learned about the growing use of mobile phones and iPads, who uses them and when. We learned about the role Twitter, Facebook and other social media play in informing area residents.

We learned what topics are of the most interest. The list, on the high end, ranged from news about the local economy to schools to things to do.

We are forming reporting teams to focus on these topics and to provide information not only in print but also on the digital platforms that Southwest Floridians are using to get information.

This new strategy in what we cover and how we cover it will include a bundled subscription model for our print edition and our digital news sites.

Starting Tuesday, full access to our website (www.naplesnews.com), our iPad edition and our mobile news site will be available at no charge to our current subscribers.

Non-subscribers and occasional visitors will be able to monitor breaking news and public-safety information, but only subscribers will have full, free access to our daily in-depth news and analysis, content that other news outlets can’t provide because of the cost, resources and expertise required.

Check us out in the coming weeks. We hope to earn your vote for best use of news and information.

Lewis is executive editor of the Daily News. His email address is plewis@naplesnews.com.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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