Galveston publisher: 'We are running at a high rate of reinvention'

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The city of Galveston, Texas, has six qualified sites where residents can go to be tested if they are concerned that they may have the new coronavirus.  If an employee of The Daily News in Galveston believes he or she may have been infected, that staff member will be directed to one of those sites to be medically evaluated.  The staff member then will remain at home until the test has been completed and the results of the evaluation have been shared with their manager.

While things at The Daily News are “business as usual,” Leonard Woolsey, publisher of The Daily News in Galveston, Texas, and president of Southern Newspapers, noted the fast-moving nature at which things are changing and said his management team is continuing to talk and evaluate their guidelines.  

“Business as usual is a nice way of saying we are running at a high rate of reinvention,” said Woolsey.  “Everything from editorial coverage to advertising strategies are being evaluated in real time and at a pace similar to when we are facing a hurricane coming off the Gulf of Mexico.”

Editorial staff also has been repositioned to provide the in-depth coverage of the virus that the community needs.  At the same time, he wants to create a reassuring feeling in the community without contributing to panic.  In an editorial in the March 13 issue of The Daily News, Woolsey writes:

“There is most likely more ahead of us than behind us at this point.  And officials are probably going to make decisions — and rightly so — based on an abundance of caution.  The important thing is for us to listen for quality information and avoid spreading speculation and reckless what-ifs. I can assure you The Daily News will work with you to support this important principle.”

At one of Southern Newspapers’ North Texas papers, the impact on advertising has already been felt.  One grocery store recently announced that it was pulling all of its preprints for several weeks because of a run on grocery items by area residents.  That loss of revenue was offset, though, by front-page banner ads and a digital package that was sold to a local hospital.

Here's an idea from Galveston that all newspapers should borrow:

To reinforce the value of The Daily News and to make sure the paper is in the community conversation, Woolsey emailed all of the paper’s subscribers, as well as inactive subscribers, noting that there is a lot of unknown about the new coronavirus. But, he told them that the staff of The Daily News knows that having “trusted, credible, and relevant information at your fingertips is critical. We are here to help add facts and context to this historic chapter in history.”

He added:

“Know our staff is committed to nothing short of fully delivering on this promise. 

"Readers of The Daily News are our neighbors — and neighbors watch out for each other. Hurricanes, floods, or in this case, a threat to community health are all opportunities to pull together and show why our community is known for its remarkable strength of character.

“The Daily News is committed to serving you and your family during this challenging time.

“Additionally, we thank you for your continued support of local journalism. Your support allows us to serve you and our community.”

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