Archive for Thursday, February 9, 2006

Excuse us, but we’re the Lansing paper

February 9, 2006

The city of Lansing is contemplating designating an official city newspaper. As such, we'd like to offer our reasons why The Current should be an obvious choice.

First and foremost, there is only one true Lansing newspaper, and it's The Current.

We are the only newspaper with a staff and offices right here in Lansing.

We're the only newspaper that covers the community front to back, top to bottom. We are in the schools and classrooms, in the neighborhoods and businesses, at City Hall and other city offices, and in the parks, playgrounds and meeting rooms covering stories of interest in the community.

Our coverage of Lansing isn't done as an afterthought or our stories published days after an important event or meeting. When breaking news that affects Lansing occurs, it gets posted immediately on our Web site. On dozens of occasions, we've had stories break on Wednesday that get into that Thursday's paper.

We didn't start The Current on a whim, trying to beat other competition to the punch. We started after surveying the market and determining from numerous interviews of civic and business leaders that Lansing was being overlooked or taken for granted by the existing media.

Last week, during a discussion of legal publications by the City Council, the publisher of the Leavenworth Times and the Lansing Chronicle Times referred to The Current as "the Lawrence paper" - no doubt his less-than-subtle way of pointing out that The World Company, which publishes The Current, is headquartered in Lawrence. The underlying message: The Current is taking money from the community and funneling it to Lawrence. Bunk.

We don't now and never have hid the fact The Current is owned by a company headquartered in Lawrence. We're proud of it. We're also pleased with the potential The World Company sees in Lansing. It has invested heavily in its Lansing news operations, bringing the city a first-class weekly newspaper and news Web site - two things Lansing has never previously had and both of which Lansing can and should be proud.

Not said at last week's meeting was that the Times and Lansing Chronicle Times are owned by Liberty Group Publishing, a conglomerate with its headquarters in Northbrook, Ill. The notion that no money is leaving the Times' or Chronicle Times' coffers for an out-of-state destination is disingenuous at best.

One argument that continues to surface is the idea that using a weekly newspaper instead of a daily would result in problems for the city. It's an argument that's advantageous to the Leavenworth paper to promote, but it's not one that holds water.

Across Kansas, just 37 of the state's 105 counties have daily newspapers. The cities in those 68 counties without dailies publish their public notices in weekly papers with little or no problems. In this area alone, the cities of Tonganoxie, Shawnee, Basehor and Bonner Springs all have designated weeklies as their official newspaper and seem to make due with their publication schedules. The state's capital city, Topeka, uses a nondaily, Topeka Metro News, as its official paper.

During last week's discussion of the public notices, a council member commented, "We went from having no coverage in Lansing basically - I mean local-type coverage that we could count on to read - and now we've got just an abundance of coverage. And everywhere we go we have a reporter covering our events, and I think that's great."

He's right. Unfortunately, he didn't take the statement to its next logical step: The sole reason for that abundance of coverage is because The Current began publishing in Lansing.

Time and again last week, the Times representative talked about that paper's grand 148-year history and its great relationship with Lansing. He talked about the dozen people who work at the Times and live in Lansing. He didn't talk about how they couldn't affect the paper enough so that residents here didn't feel like a stepchild when decisions about coverage were made.

We did not start The Lansing Current without encouragement from civic leaders, and at least their tacit welcome and support. The Times had taken the city for granted. The relatively modest amount of money the city of Lansing spends on its public notices would be a small way to say to The Current, "Well done!"


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