Today, for the third consecutive morning, my Denver Post didn't arrive in time for me to read it before heading off to work; more about that in a future blog. And to compound the problem, the copies usually awaiting me upon my arrival at Westword's offices were absent, too. So I did what thousands of others do on a daily basis: I surfed to DenverPost.com to get my news for free -- and for some reason, I noticed something that hadn't clicked with me previously. All of the main news links in view when the page loaded were local or locally generated, ranging from Michael Riley's report about the possible deployment of soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border to pieces focusing on a vote against expanding beer sales in supermarkets, an initiative to double FasTracks taxes and so on.
The local-first rule is something the Rocky Mountain News made a central part of its mission, and it's particularly suited to the way information dissemination has evolved in the personal-computer age. At a time when national updates are readily available from a multitude of sources, hometown news is the best way for a local media organization to stand out and remain vital. Nevertheless, the A-section of the physical Post remains dominated by national headlines (with a few prominent Denver-based stories sprinkled in), while the lion's share of the local stuff is relegated to the secondary Denver and the West section.
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Why not break with anachronistic newspaper tradition and reverse this mix, as the Rocky did? Putting an even greater emphasis on local news is a way for the Post to show Denver residents that there's a good reason for them to turn to the paper every day -- a message DenverPost.com delivers to webaholics from its very first screen.