Vicki Gowler: Changes will boost access to business news

vgowler@idahostatesman.comJanuary 5, 2014 

Three years ago, we launched a new weekly business magazine, Business Insider.

It was unique for several reasons:

- We brought together a group of local business leaders and asked them to help decide what content they wanted in the magazine. Then we asked them to help contribute their expertise and advice. They did, and this magazine truly became “ours” — the Idaho Statesman’s and the business community’s.

- We made it an opt-in magazine, a relatively new address-specific delivery approach that meant the readers who relished quality business reporting could get it. In the last year, we had nearly 11,000 subscribers.

- The magazine won an innovation award from our parent company, McClatchy.

For me, the magazine was unique and frustrating. Over time, I realized how much knowledge I was gaining about local businesses, their success stories and the lessons they learned from their failures. I got to know all sorts of people through the profiles on its pages. I was in the know on new businesses coming to town. I felt smart with the context and perspective provided with our numbers graphics.

I increasingly believed it was important to make sure more of our readers could see this magazine.

We are going to do that by shifting to a monthly themed magazine. That means we will highlight content on a certain topic, from technology to law to the business of health care to construction.

Our largest magazines in the past year have been our themed ones, clearly serving readers and advertisers well.

By shifting to a monthly and giving ourselves more time to produce each edition, we will be able to give this magazine to all of our readers. It will move to Wednesdays, usually the third one each month.

We also will make some changes based in part on a readers survey we did last year. We will drop the public records pages and add more pages of stories, photos and graphics. We will have more room to include stories from around the state.

Coverage of local business is, simply, an important thing for every daily newspaper. I am pleased that we will be giving a bigger, better magazine to all of you, even though we won’t have a magazine every week. And we will bring back a daily business section on Tuesdays as well.

We also are going to make a few other changes in the newspaper in 2014:

- We’re moving Idaho Outdoors to the back of the Sports section. The new location won’t change the popular, high-interest content produced by Editor Roger Phillips and reporter/columnist Pete Zimowsky, aka Zimo. We’ve moved this content around a bit over the years; in our latest survey, readers made it clear that they wanted the content all together on one day.

We will still have separate Idaho Outdoors sections on special content: biking, fishing, camping, our annual photo contest, hunting and the winter recreation guide.

- We will offer a TV guide only in our Sunday home delivery newspapers, not in editions sold in stores or vending machines. The guide is optional at a low cost, and it provides a wealth of information to set folks up for a week of viewing.

- We also moved our death notices and obituaries on Sundays to the Life section. We — and most of you — were not happy when we had to move them to the back of Sports for deadline production reasons a few years ago.

Though this will result in a two-day delay on death notices on the weekend, we think the location will serve readers better.

Vicki Gowler is editor and vice president of the Idaho Statesman. She can be reached at vgowler@idahostatesman.com.

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