At the beginning of May, the Information Center folks at The Clarion-Ledger had a meeting with new Executive Editor, Brian Tolley, about the restructuring that would take place. I arrived late – which was no excuse – so I missed my part of the changes coming to the paper. But once I listened to Brian give reporters and editors their new beats, I was a little surprised. I then wondered what was happening to myself, Annie Oeth, and Lucy Weber – ladies of The Madison County Herald nondaily paper. You should’ve seen our faces! My eyebrows went all the way up to my hairline as Brian explained my new beat:
Responsible for content on the weekly Suburban Digest page, which is replacing the Clinton News page. Six to seven briefs with news and happenings on Byram, Brandon, Canton, Clinton, Flowood, Madison, Pearl and Ridgeland. A main story at the top of the page will rotate between Clinton, Brandon and Madison. There will be a top photo picked by the editor from a gallery featuring one of the cities, and five quotes from sources and readers from the coverage areas. Even my picture would go with the article like a column.
I left the meeting shocked and a little unsure. Annie and veteran reporters reassured me that I would do just fine. But I wasn’t ready to leave Madison in less than two weeks because I still had Herald stories to do, and everyone else felt just like me. We weren’t ready. But, we had new jobs to do, and had to keep it moving.
So, it’s May 29th and the first Suburban Digest page rolled out last Thursday. I got some pretty good feedback from readers and editors, and we may or may not add more small areas like Raymond or Terry. The first two weeks were so stressful because I was going from covering two cities to eight, over the metro area. It was such a hard adjustment and I was pretty stressed. But, I am getting used to this expanded beat and each week will get better. The first page did show me that I am capable of meeting these responsibilities.
And, this new 11-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday schedule will take some getting used to. I had this schedule at my old newspaper back in Ohio, but these hours are odd. Giving up church and young professionals programs and activities does not sit well with me. Oh well, I have to suck it up and keep it moving. I’m actually looking forward to working on this page and it’s keeping me busier than ever before. I have almost two years with The Clarion-Ledger, and it’s been a pretty good experience. Lots of changes are occurring, but we will do just fine. I believe the readers will like these changes because we are more focused on giving them what they want: more family/lifestyle, outdoor activities, watchdog and enterprise, multimedia and a better balance of news and features. And, sports, legislature, education, cops and courts aren’t going anywhere.
Wish me and all of us luck. I hope you like the Digest coming out Thursday!