116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The first email arrived at 6:54 a.m. Sunday. It was expected and, honestly, welcome.
I enjoy the opportunity to explain our coverage philosophy and the chance to have a meaningful exchange with our readers. It helps me understand what our customers expect and want from us and can help us shape our coverage in the future.
The complaints on Sunday, and into Monday, were about The Gazette's 'lack” of coverage on Iowa State's major upset of Oklahoma on Saturday in a Big 12 football battle in Norman, Okla. Most wondered why Iowa's football win over Illinois - 'one of the worst teams in their conference,” according to one email - received a four-page section while Iowa State was relegated to 'Page 3B.”
I often tell my staff readers don't care about the obstacles we face in our coverage or how we do our job. They just want to see their schools, their teams and their athletes in the newspaper or online.
I stand by that today, but also wanted to take this opportunity to explain how and why we do what we do.
The easy answer is the four-page 'Final Score” section - as well as the four-page 'GameDay” section in Saturday's paper - are sponsored sections that wrap around the main Sports section. An advertiser pays for that placement and it cannot be changed.
Page 3B in the Saturday and Sunday papers, during the fall football season, is the Sports cover.
The hard answer, or the harder one to accept for many, is I wouldn't change it even if I could.
You see, The Gazette is an Eastern Iowa newspaper that caters to readers from Sigourney to Decorah, Tama to Epworth. Cedar Rapids-Marion and Iowa City are our biggest markets. Through lots of surveys, analytics on our website and interaction with our readers, we know Iowa athletics - and Iowa football in this case - is No. 1 among our customers. A close second is our high school coverage.
Nothing else comes close. Nothing.
That shapes what we are.
That said, we also know our readers have a variety of passions, from national events to local recreation. We also know many want to read about Iowa State's teams and athletes. Many also want more coverage of UNI, Coe and Cornell. Others want 'High School A” covered instead of 'High School B.” Some want NBA coverage.
Was Iowa's win over Illinois bigger than Iowa State's over Oklahoma? Of course not, but win or lose we are going to give our readers extensive Iowa coverage. It's what we do, and what we do best.
I won't apologize for the amount or depth of our Iowa coverage, which I think is the best in the state.
I also think the coverage of the Cyclones' victory was very good in Sunday's newspaper. We bannered the win on Page 1A and the game story - with two photos - took half of our Sports cover. Our new Iowa State writer, Ben Visser, took it upon himself to write a story on the outstanding game Joel Lanning had, giving us a second story to enhance our coverage.
If I could change anything - and could have predicted an ISU win - it would have been to hire a writer in Norman to give us a better report. Of course, if I could predict outcomes, I probably wouldn't be sitting in this chair staring out onto Third Avenue on a Monday morning.
I happen to be a big fan of Matt Campbell and think he has done - and is doing - a fantastic job in Ames. You can see the enthusiasm in his face and his passion for getting the Cyclones on track for bigger and better things is undeniable. Watch the video of him talking to his team after the win Saturday. You'll see a teacher taking the opportunity to mold his students.
The bottom line is, I honestly welcome your thoughts and concerns and relish the opportunity to respond. We don't have to agree, but any meaningful exchange is time well spent.
l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr,email@example.com