John Drescher

N&O community papers to change

Starting next week, The News & Observer’s 10 community papers, which are published twice a week, will change.

On Wednesdays, the papers will contain coverage about food and dining. On Sundays, the papers will focus on news, features and sports stories from around the region.

Because the articles in the Wednesday and Sunday community papers will have been published previously in The N&O, most subscribers will not receive a community paper. The community papers will be targeted for readers who are not N&O subscribers.

Our community papers have a proud history. But in today’s 24-hour news cycle, twice-weekly community papers can no longer provide news and information in a way that matches how readers consume news.

We’ll still cover these communities but we’ll shift resources to create some new reporting beats that we expect will have a wide audience, such as beats covering health issues and the growth of our region.

Events that were listed in the community papers can be submitted to our online events calendar at, at The event will appear immediately online.

We’re a digital media company. Our digital readership was up 20 percent last year and most of our readership is now digital. All of our growth in readership and advertising revenue is on the digital side. We have to steer resources toward the audience that is growing so we can meet the expectations of our digital readers.

For example, as part of a newsroom reorganization, we will devote more staff to video. A few years ago, our video viewership was negligible. Last year, N&O video was viewed more than 3.5 million times; this year it will be far more than that. This is the age of video. Our smartphone readers expect news and sports video, and we’re eager to provide it.

We can’t cover everything we did in the era when print newspapers were described as “the most profitable legal business in America.” But we can excel if we focus our resources on the kind of reporting that has distinguished The N&O.

A recent example was our report that used data to show that low-income children who score well on end-of-grade tests often are excluded from advanced math classes, which can be a path toward college. Politicians from both parties agreed that’s a practice that needs to be reviewed so bright children from all backgrounds are given the same opportunity to succeed.

We’re a different kind of business — we’re a public service journalism company — but we’re still a business. We have to anticipate our readers’ and advertisers’ needs and move to meet those needs. The management expert Peter Drucker once wrote: “Far too few businesses are willing to slough off yesterday, and as a result, far too few have the resources available for tomorrow.”

The print N&O is still important to us and we recently created a print team to produce the daily paper. But we’re shifting more resources to digital so that we can, as Drucker said, create tomorrow.

Celia moves

Humor columnist Celia Rivenbark appeared in the Sunday features section for years. Rivenbark is now writing about politics; her column will appear on the Sunday op-ed page.

Puzzle added

The New York Times crossword puzzle used to be in the twice-weekly community papers. Now it’s in The N&O seven days a week.

John Drescher: 919-829-4515, @john_drescher