Daily Herald editors discuss how the paper comes together
Which stories appear in each issue of the Daily Herald is a decision made by the editorial staff, based on journalistic principles and free of outside influences, editors said.
Daily Herald editors provided an inside look at how the newspaper and website come together Wednesday night during the fourth in a series of "Facts Matter" presentations at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's headquarters in Arlington Heights. The session was titled "How a news organization works," and on hand to share with the crowd were Managing Editor Jim Baumann, Deputy Managing Editor-Opinion Jim Slusher and Deputy Managing Editor-News Pete Nenni.
"One of the most important things we have to offer as a business is trust," Slusher said. "We make the decisions we make not because we were told to do it but because someone thought it was important."
Importance is one of six factors the editors mentioned when discussing what makes a story worth writing. The others were the story's proximity to the Daily Herald's coverage area, its timeliness, if it contains conflict, if it contains human interest and the prominence of the people involved.
Baumann said he and other senior editors meet at 9 a.m. each day to develop a plan. Some of this work is specifically done with the website in mind and takes into account stories and topics that are trending online. He said editors also discuss ways state or national stories can be localized for Daily Herald readers.
Baumann said while editors and reporters don't know who is reading the website at any given time, they can see which stories are getting the most attention. He said the top stories are often breaking news or news about restaurants.
"When Portillo's came out with that lemon cake, I think that was our best-selling story on the web that day," Baumann said. "Portillo's is one thing, a new restaurant, even if it's a new McDonald's or a revamped McDonald's, people go nuts over that because everybody eats."
Baumann said the website will be updated many times throughout the day depending on the stories people are reading. Editors meet again at 2:45 p.m., this time including page designers, to discuss what has happened during the day to plan the next day's newspaper.
"The website sometimes is frustrating to people. Especially when you've been a newspaper reader for a long, long, long time, it seems endless, and it is pretty endless because you can go down through all sorts of rabbit holes on the internet," Baumann said. "But the front page is really, in large part, with collaboration, my vision of what the most important things are for tomorrow's paper."
The final Facts Matter presentation in the series is 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the auditorium of the Forest View Educational Center at 2121 S. Goebbert Road in Arlington Heights. The final topic will be "The First Amendments and Its Role in the Republic." Register at events.dailyherald.com/.