Reinventing the Newsroom

An Update on Tallahassee

Posted in Digital Experiments, Long-Form Journalism by reinventingthenewsroom on September 30, 2009

On Friday I wrote about the Tallahassee Democrat’s experiment in making its investigative story about Wakulla County’s sheriff a print-only feature, supplemented by online areas where readers could get a summary of the story, discuss it and read supporting documents. (See the original post here.)

So how’d it go? I emailed Bob Gabordi, the Democrat’s executive editor, to find out.

“Traffic was pretty strong and the conversation was very lively,” he told me. “We had just under 9,000 page views on the summary, primarily people going on for the conversation. Much of the focus was on the journalism: Did we go too far into his business, not far enough, even a few ‘just rights.’ ”

Those 9,000 page views, Mr. Gabordi says, put the summary in tallahassee.com’s top 15 text pieces for the month in terms of traffic — and in the top five if football stories are excluded.

Meanwhile, on the print side, he says the Democrat saw its biggest Sunday single-copy sales day since the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2008, with a gain of nearly 16% over the previous week.

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At the risk of changing gears rather precipitously, here’s my latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center. It notes that access to players and games was once a huge competitive advantage for sportswriters, but regular telecasts and wall-to-wall sports coverage have eroded that advantage. Is access still useful? Yes — but I contend that few sportswriters are using it in ways that would help new media work for them.

2 Responses

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  1. Bob O'Lary said, on September 30, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Statistically, the overwhelming consensus of the online comments were negative towards the scope of the story, and the lack of new information on the subject of Sheriff Harvey.
    A story that was touted as being “months in the making” was sadly lacking in investigative content, and new discoveries. The excuse that “many residents were afraid to go on record” was slight comfort for readers who really wanted a well-worked investigative story.
    The Exec editor took to the comments section answering, rebutting and deflecting comments he took as negative, but the author Ms. Portman was no where to be found in that domain, despite specific comments asking for her reply or follow-up. I suspect the term “investigative reporting” has developed a new meaning to the Tallahassee Democrat, no doubt faulted to the poor economy and declining revenues. Alas, the reading public was still expecting a “real” investigative news piece. Disappointment was apparent in most comments. Many readers stated they felt “duped” into buying the print edition. Sorry this was not mentioned by your authority.
    Bob O’Lary

  2. […] An Update on Tallahassee « Reinventing the Newsroom reinventingthenewsroom.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/tallahassee-update – view page – cached Posted in Digital Experiments, Long-Form Journalism by reinventingthenewsroom on September 30, 2009 — From the page […]


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