People around the office often ask me what my plans are for Creative Loafing, online and in print, in 2012. Then they look for visual cues to confirm, "Yes, you're included in those plans."
I can't blame them. It's tough to be in the media business right now. The proof is in your hands — unless you're reading this online, of course, but humor me. The days when advertisers supported 180-page summer guides (hello, 2004!) are long gone. How do we solve this migration to the online world? If I knew the answer, I'd be charging a lot more to write this column.
We'll give it a go, though. One of my first responses is, "We're going to be more transparent." That's because media consumers increasingly demand this from newspapers. To that end, here are some of the ways in which I think you'll see a shift in focus from this paper in the new year:
We will be a paper of passions: I've always seen alternative weeklies as more magazine-y than newspaper-y, and CL will be no different. The best magazines a) find writers with a point of view, and b) let them write about the topics that move them. Whether that's Thomas Wheatley on transportation, Besha Rodell on great cocktails, or Wyatt Williams on transcendent writers, we want our people to pick a few topics they care about and go deep. In that way, we might not be a paper for all people, but one for those who care deeply about the urban Atlanta experience and don't need to see their point of view reflected in every story.
More bait in the online water: We want our audience to grow, of course. So we will focus our online conversations on the topics you most care about — news and politics; food and drink; pop culture, fine arts, and music — and double our efforts to engage you on these topics. There'll be more blog posts (although there may be some blog consolidation). There'll be an increase in topic aggregation in addition to original reporting as we shift to become more of a daily newsroom rather than a weekly newspaper. As such, you'll see fewer news stories in the paper that aren't cover stories, as we'll want to put our reporting online as stories develop.
Discussions about making Atlanta a better city: We're not putting a renewed emphasis online just to troll for more comments (an ineffective measure of a story's worth, by the way). We're doing it because we want to find a place where Atlantans who care about the quality of their city can discuss these issues every day. That doesn't mean a free-for-all where the loudest voices and the quickest typists dominate the discussion. We want a place where you feel stimulated and engaged, but always welcome, even if you disagree with a story. Especially so, in fact.
We'll have more fun: We should take the work seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously. It's a problem in journalism, and it needs to be eradicated. First step? Stop using words like "eradicated."
Eric Celeste is CL's Editor-in-chief.