This page contains a list of the “did you know?” features that occasionally appears in the paper where publisher Chris Hardie answers frequently asked questions from readers about how the Western Wayne News is made.
Is there something you’ve always wondered about how the newspaper works? Please contact us.
Q: “Why do you have news from all over Wayne County when it’s called the Western Wayne News?”
A: As we say, we cover the east, the west and all the rest. The WWN originated as a paper covering the western parts of the county, but over the last 10 years we’ve grown into a countywide publication. Over half of our print subscribers live in central or eastern parts of the county and beyond. Some have encouraged us to change our name to reflect this new reality, but we’ve left it the same to honor our roots and history.
Q: “Why is some of the information in the print edition of the paper outdated?”
A: As a publication that distributes by postal mail, we have to finish putting the paper together in plenty of time to get it printed (Mondays), delivered to the post office (Tuesdays) so that it can arrive in your mailbox by midweek. In order to send to the printer on Monday, that means much of our reporting has to be wrapped up by the end of the previous week so that our editing, page layout and quality checking work can happen over the weekend. We try to make last-minute timely edits where we can, and our online stories often reflect more up-to-date information.
Q: “What does it mean when a sports story says that details of a given game were not available?”
A: Our sports reporter, Dan Harney, attends many high school sports games every week, but can’t be at all of them without breaking the laws of physics. For the ones he cannot attend, he asks coaches and athletic directors to submit scoring and player stats to the newspaper after a game has concluded. Some schools and teams are more able or willing to do this in a timely manner than others. When we don’t receive the info we need, we add a note to the article that the information was unavailable as of press time, so readers don’t think we forgot to include it.
Q: “If my paper doesn’t arrive on time or at all, why can’t you send me a new one?”
A: When we mail the papers out in bulk, we receive a significantly discounted postage rate from the U.S. Postal Service. But if we mail out just one at a time, it costs us close to $6 each. In keeping our subscription prices so low, it means we don’t have wiggle room to handle that extra expense when a paper gets delayed or lost in the postal delivery process. We do have extra copies available in our Cambridge City office, but we know not everyone can make the trip.
Q: “What does ‘staff reports’ mean in an article byline?”
A: Sometimes we include articles that are largely derived from information found at or submitted to us by official sources. The most common example is a press release from an area organization, business or government entity promoting a program or event. In writing the related article, we may excerpt significant portions of the submitted press release, including quotes or statistics, always noting that the information has been supplied. We use the staff reports designation to acknowledge that the article is produced in this way, and to distinguish it from an article where one of our reporters has done more significant original research, reporting and writing.
Q: “Why do you publish news that has already made the rounds online?”
A: It’s true, a lot of information about what’s happening in Wayne County can be found online in some form. And while a significant number of local residents probably get some of their news online, there are still many who either aren’t connected at all, or who choose not to rely on social media for their news, turning instead to credible journalistic sources that can provide more depth. Not only do we take extra time to research and verify important information before sharing it, we can also drill down into details and context that may be helpful to a reader. Plus, publishing articles in a newspaper makes them a part of the record of our community life together, when what scrolls by on social media is often much more transient.
Q: A local radio station often broadcasts the WWN’s reporting without giving credit. Is that done with permission?
A: No. While we welcome opportunities to partner with other local media to keep the community informed, when they share our reporting without permission or attribution, not only is it considered plagiarism and unethical in the world of journalism, it devalues the significant time and effort we put into producing our coverage. We have directly asked the radio station in question to stop using our articles without permission or attribution, but that practice unfortunately continues. We do appreciate that community members have noticed this and expressed their concern about it.
Q: How do you decide what goes on the front page of the paper?
A: Every week we have more local news, sports, events and photos than can possibly fit in a single issue of the paper, and so it’s always a challenge to decide what should go in, let alone be featured on the front page. Our team meets multiple times per week to review the list and pitch ideas about how to prioritize and shape our coverage in ways that best meet the community’s information needs. In the absence of still-pending events or other breaking news, we’ve usually decided what the front page will have on it by Friday evening. We try to pick articles that represent a balance of personal stories, useful information and important updates from all across Wayne County, and that invite our readers into the rest of the paper to learn more. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as which stories have compelling photos to go with them. I’m sure that any one reader could disagree with where we end up for a given week since different things are important to different people, but my hope is that taken together over time our front pages reflect the many interesting, diverse and newsworthy things happening in all corners of the community.