Battling Boredom: Five Tips from the Trenches  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   November 1999

Battling Boredom: Five Tips from the Trenches   

By Sharyn Vane
Sharyn Vane has written and edited at papers in Colorado, Florida and Texas.      

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1. Be willing to break the rules. "It's the formula approach that's bad," says Karen Brown Dunlap, a faculty dean at the Poynter Institute. "We've known for years that what readers ask is that you surprise me." That goes for both story topics and format.

2. Be willing to fail. (A corollary to No. 1.)

3. Make sure the newsy stories are also meaningful. Rick Tapscott, metro editor at the Des Moines Register: "No. 1, it's got to be conveying information. Then you've got to be catching their attention long enough to get them to read through the rest of the story." Doing that often means telling readers in very specific terms why they should care.

4. Mix it up. "Special projects should not just be the domain of metro reporters," points out Laura Wingard, metro editor of the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. The more sections represented on page one, the better chances of having an interesting page.

5. Editors and reporters, ask yourselves, "Would I read this if I didn't have to?" The acid test.