The Ventura County Star made substantial changes to their newspaper this past week. Some are cosmetic, but some are a major shift in how the news is reported.
First, there is a different look, with mastheads changed on interior sections, along with different fonts being used for headlines. Those are the cosmetic changes.
As for substance, looking at today’s paper (Saturday, 2-5), there is a huge difference in the main section. The front page is local, but no regular VC Star reporters wrote the stories. The top story, “More Power to the Counties,” is written by Timm Herdt, bureau chief for Sacramento. The second and third featured stories are not news, but features, which is hard to believe that they are on the front page.
The second lead story is an inspirational one, about a Ventura mother helping families with children with heart defects, but that is not front-page news. The third story is about former staff people for Ronald Reagan, and their stories. That may be interesting to some, but it is not breaking news. And, the reporters for these two stories, Julie Price and Michael Collins, are not regular VC Star reporters. Julie is listed as “special to the Star,” and Michael is listed with an internet contact other than the VC Star.
Moving on, the second page is a continuation of first-page stories. But, here is the shocker… the rest of this Saturday’s main section of the VC Star comes from the Associated Press! Page 3A through page 19A come from news feeds! The only other local story I saw in those 16 pages was one about an Oxnard company, Saalx, getting a defense contract. It was again written by a special correspondent, Mark Storer, not a regulal reporter.
It is a sad day for local news reporting and I will be writing more about the VC Star changes. In the meantime, here is how editor Joe R. Howry described the modifications in last Sunday’s (1-30) newspaper: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/jan/29/changes-coming-this-week-in-the-star/