ASHEVILLE- Despite laying off eight employees yesterday, the Asheville Citizen-Times is now more capable than ever to print award winning non-local journalism.
While dismissed local reporters like Jason Sanford and Susan Gambrell Reinhardt provided excellent coverage of local Asheville news, the coverage over shadowed what readers truly want, national news stories from parent Gannett Company USA Today and AP wire stories.
“The departed staff did a great job, but the truth is their local news stories really took up the space in the paper that could be filled with other USA Today articles,” said Steve Brandt, publisher of The Greenville News, who is also overseeing the Citizen-Times as the Citizen-Times at this time does not have a publisher.
“Sure readers could pick up the USA Today directly, but Asheville is a buy local town. Something about having that Asheville Citizen-Times banner over a USA Today article really motivates the audience to pick up a paper. It really gives people a sense of community pride.”
The layoffs are not a huge surprise given the dying nature of the print industry. But Brandt says Gannett hopes at least their papers will die a dignified death.
“Some would say the reason why the newspaper industry is dying is because publishers are ignoring the local audience,” said Brandt.
“But when you weigh the relevance of former NY Rep. Anthony Weiner sending dick pics again versus Rep. Tim Moffitt seeking revenge on Asheville for a water lawsuit through park legislation, clearly the Weiner news is not only more interesting, but also impacts more people. If what we are doing is killing our industry, we are going down as proud captains of our sinking ship, because we feel we are doing what is right. We are journalists and we have to uphold some sense of standards.”
The local news section of the Asheville Citizen-Times is not the only section that could use more national stories according to Brandt.
“The sports section could really use some more national headlines and USA Today articles,” said Brandt.
“I mean who really cares about UNCA and WCU basketball. Everybody in Asheville cares more about North Carolina, Duke, and North Carolina State anyway. Oh and don’t even get me started on the Asheville Scene. Sure the Scene writers are talented, but maybe we could get Eater.com to submit some articles about New York chefs, even though they won’t admit it southerners secretly envy Yankees.”
Brandt as acting overseer of the Citizen-Times welcomes comments from readers about how the Citizen-Times could incorporate more non-local journalism in the paper. You can contact Brandt at 864-298-4416 or email him at email@example.com.