Multiple news sources of Lansing keep balance between one another

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the newsroom of the Lansing State Journal hard at work. Photo courtesy of Ella Kovacs

The newsroom of the Lansing State Journal hard at work. Photo courtesy of Ella Kovacs

By Ella Kovacs
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

The Lansing area has several print news sources to keep its community up to date on all the happenings around them. While these publications are similar in some ways, they differ in content or audience, creating a well-rounded collection of publications.

However, working with these differences can be a challenge to ensure that news is not repeated exactly in multiple different sources.

The audience to these print publications varies, but according to Roy Cunningham, the only people who read the news are older people.

Cunningham is a 74-year-old Lansing area local, who reads “anything from City Hall,” he said.

He also said that for the younger generation, it’s all about how fast you can get the news, and most of them can get it with the push of a button.

The Lansing State Journal is a newspaper, in print and online, that covers news from the Lansing area. Matt Hund of the Lansing State Journal explained the way the different publications of Lansing stay unique from one another is how they pick their stories, mainly geographically and topically.

“We are local, specifically in the tri-county area, with a couple of spikes that go out of that, but we cover stories that affect the residents of Eaton, Ingham, and Clinton county,” said Hund. “And then are local community newspapers also that just focus on their specific area. Like in Haslett and Okemos and Delta and Delhi townships, they have their community news.”

“Then you also have kind of alternative papers, that focus on arts and culture, so ‘topical’ is another way they pick stories. I think we’re fairly comprehensive because we have reporters that cover each area, but there’s certain publications that only cover events and things to do,” said Hund.

The City Pulse is one of these alternative papers.

The purple pin represents the location of the Lansing State Journal, and the red pin is the location of City Pulse. Map courtesy of Ella Kovacs via iPhone Maps

The purple pin represents the location of the Lansing State Journal, and the red pin is the location of City Pulse. Map courtesy of Ella Kovacs via iPhone Maps

“We don’t try to do what everybody else does,” said Berl Schwartz, editor and publisher of City Pulse. He explained that this publication is very oriented around event listings and the arts and entertainment culture of Lansing.

“Arts and entertainment editor gets flooded with press releases and requests for coverage, and then another resource we use a lot is our events listings. We have the most complete events listings in town, so, you know, we get a lot of ideas from that,” said Schwartz.

“That’s kind of the tail wagging the dog, we never cut our events listings section, we may have to cut news or arts and entertainment, but you know a lot of people pick us up simply for that reason. Its not all we do, it’s not our entire reason for being around, but it is an important part of the paper,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz talked about how sometimes they will overlap with the Lansing State Journal, but only on major local events like something big at the Wharton center. Other than that, the Lansing State Journal is much more news-oriented that they really don’t worry about much overlap with the City Pulse.

However, the Lansing State Journal is a part of a “news family,” that play off the other papers in the family, such as the ones in Port Huron, Livingston, and Battle Creek, explained Hund. There are also smaller community publications under the umbrella of the Lansing State Journal, and those are managed by Kurt Madden.

These papers are tailored to the smaller local communities within the Lansing area.

news blocks

Newspaper dispensers downtown Lansing. Photo courtesy of Ella Kovacs

“They focus on what’s happening in the particular communities. Mason, Williamston, St. Johns, Grand Ledge, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids. Those have community identities,” said Madden. “Most of our news, that I handle, is submitted. It comes right from the reader. Events, in particular, achievements by local people, even full blown stories submitted by people. Opinions and letters, generated by the community, for the community. So that’s how it stays unique.”

Madden also talked about how some stories get doubled and are featured in both the Lansing State Journal AND the community papers. “Some of them are edited, changed, reworked. Sports stories for example, there may be a story written completely from the slant of a local community, and then we can take that story, excerpt it, and rework the story and point it to the other side of who they were playing,” said Madden.

Amy Eisman, Director of the Media Entrepreneurship and Special Programs in the School of Communication at American University of Washington D.C., talked about the fact that if all of these publications were competing with each other, it would be uncommon for there to be this many in a single city. But since many of them are in the same network family, it makes more sense.

“It is always better for society when there are more voices in the mix rather than fewer,” said Eisman.

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