After leaving The Cincinnati Enquirer in 2006, Beryl Love is back as executive editor in charge of his hometown paper. He talks about his priorities, the challenges of the industry, and why no one calls when they’re happy.
What areas are you focusing on from your new perch? It’s important to invest resources in watchdog and investigative reporting. That’s the foundation of what we are, our First Amendment responsibility. But we are also an industry in transition and have to address changing habits of our audience.
The financial struggles of traditional newspapers are well documented, yet they’ve still managed to break so many of the most important stories of the past few years. The business challenges are real, but there’s more than one way to measure success. We have a bigger audience than ever. We are getting more digital-only subscribers. We’re invested in this community. It’s not glamorous. It’s not cheap. [But] it gives me a lot of optimism that we have more and more people willing to invest in us because they see value in it.
Not to harp on the struggles, but clearly layoffs and consolidation of positions like copy editors has been difficult. It’s soul crushing when I see an error. We used to have a full-blown copy desk system where a story that was going on page one got four or five reads. Now it’s probably two. When you take that many people out of [the process], there will be more mistakes. That’s tough for me to see, and I know our readers are driven crazy by that too.
It’s one of those things: readers only notice when you get it wrong. And we in the media need to have thick skin. No one’s going to call and say, That was a really well reported story and the headline was exactly right. The feedback we get is always when somebody finds fault, and that’s just the nature of our business.
How do you combat those challenges? Telling really good stories about this community will always be a priority. The way we deliver it, that’s going to change. But our First Amendment responsibilities and being able to tell great stories, that’s my longterm play.
Listen to the full interview on our CM Conversations podcast, or via the player below.