The Enterprise (Brockton, Mass.)
Read some of The Enterprise’s major projects online: Seven police, firefighter suicides hit local departments hard, The tenants of Brockton’s ‘Tent City’, High court rules on Brockton power plant appeals
[The Enterprise is Newspaper of the Year] for consistent coverage that readers talk about. For example: The abduction of a 9-year-old boy from the parking lot of a local school; a hockey preview told in segments rather than one long leg of text; a group of diners who turn to Facebook to generate interest in keeping a local burger joint open for business. (And, in turn, its coverage of social media is a subtle reminder that readers can rely on the newspaper, too.)
But Enterprise enterprise is what makes the paper worth a reader’s time:
• A look at why seven area first responders (police and fire) committed suicide in the last four years.
• A look (with compelling and storytelling photographs) at Brockton’s “hidden homeless” people.
• A commentary spread about the rising addiction to heroin, “an epidemic so deadly we ask you to read every painful word on these two pages. And do something.” The Enterprise did something, including getting five prominent, local authorities to write insightful, clearly labeled opinions.
• A 14-page section about high school graduation ceremonies that goes beyond the
routine list of graduates. Each page has candid, journalistic, emotional and
memorable photographs. The package makes use of GateHouse resources, including
those of the Patriot Ledger.
• Two draw-your-dad, draw-your-mom reader-submission packages that smartly
feature photographs showing the parent, the artist and the child’s drawing.
Were there any structural changes made to your newsroom in 2014 and why?
The Enterprise newsroom is a demanding, relentless environment, requiring reporters and photographers to meet the almost constant imperatives of covering a multicultural urban center, rife with gang warfare, drug sales, violent crime and murder, juxtaposed with a surrounding suburban market of mainly white, middle-class small towns.
In 2014, those factors contributed to an unprecedented turnover of four out of six news reporter positions — several more than once — and a photographer slot. A new city editor also came on board early in the year, replacing a tenured retiree. Because of the extraordinary staff turnover, maintenance of a consistent daily news report became the focus of our efforts.
In order to stabilize staff, we worked with Human Resources to identify possible management and cultural issues and to create a program that would foster team-building, collaboration and a shared sense of responsibility among the 13-person newsroom.. To date, success can be measured by the retention of all four reporters hired in 2014.
What new initiatives or projects did your newspaper launch in 2014?
Through the reorganization we continued to serve our audience with a strong daily local report, undertook significant public service reporting on a range of issues from first-responder suicides to citizen engagement opposing a proposed power plant construction within city limits. We tracked the efforts of an interim police chief to stem ongoing street violence, and challenged attempts by various town agencies to withhold public documents on a range of spending and decision-making.
As new staff joined the team, we worked to balance hard news reporting with more community-interest coverage of individuals, organizations and entertainment and lifestyle options in our broad market.
During this period, The Enterprise was recognized as one of 2014’as Distinguished Newspapers by the New England Newspaper and Press Association for its Sunday editions.
How did you involve readers in your newspaper in 2014?
The Enterprise engages readers throughout the year in daily polls, reverse publishing of online comments and photographs and in a number of broader coverage initiatives. From a weekly page of reader stories and photos called You Said It! to a twice a year multi-page salute by readers to beloved veterans, to the artwork of contributors from ages 5 through 75 for our Draw Your Dad, Draw Your Mom and Christmas Card contests, we offer our audience multiple opportunities to tell their stories and share the images that reflect their lives, in print and online.
Perhaps most significantly, we marshaled the voices of our readers to join us in combating one of the highest rates of opiate addiction and overdose deaths in the nation. It’s a topic the newspaper first reported on in a groundbreaking 2007 series which changed the way the state reported opioid-related deaths.
Through consistent reporting, a robust editorial voice, and the personal column writing of our managing editor, we drove action and reaction. We asked our readers to write to us demanding the governor take a different, multi-stakeholder approach to solving the problem. We hand delivered our stories, editorials and reader-entreaties to the governor, who responded by declaring opioid addiction a public health emergency. That eight-year effort continues.
Honorable Mention: Pocono Record
Clean, uncluttered presentation compels readers to take interest when the news demands special display, such as the full-page poster treatment about the capture of suspected state police killer Eric Frein. For seven weeks the local daily delivered brilliantly. Its hard news and enterprise garnered global attention and admiration. So, too, did the climactic headline: ‘GOT HIM.’
Honorable Mention: The News-Herald
The newspaper knows that when Florida freezes over, ice is big news worth big photographs. The newspaper also knows that enterprise reporting is what makes content memorable, including details about shootings of six black men, a State Department exchange program that is not fulfilling its promise, and a look at what makes women enter local politics.
Honorable Mention: Burlington Times-News
Sometimes headlines need to be direct (“Our worst bridges”) and sometimes headlines need to be playful (“Future hazy for e-cigarettes”) and accurate, and the Times-News proves the point with its daily and enterprise coverage that pays attention to words. For example, this enticing lede: “Inspecting a bridge is a combination of exact science and careful eyeballing.”