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Panpa Bulletin : February 2006
20 | PANPA BULLETIN February 2006 CONTENT Inviting editorial staff to write about their experience of love in a strange place was only one of the innovative ploys used by The Press to beat the Christmas- New Year holiday news drought. The two weeks after Christmas are always a problem for editors. Plenty of staff are on leave. Hard news is usually in short supply. Regular news sources are hard to reach. Most of the public enjoy- ing holiday relaxation have more time to read and be entertained. Conversely, surrender to summer ennui can be more compelling than struggling to read anything deemed to be boring. Examina- tion of New Zealand's four metro- politan dailies showed The Press, to be a standout in holiday-time fare variety, flare and volume. So what made The Press seem so good at enlivening summer holiday pages? > Planning by features editor Mark Wilson that began halfway through the year. > Having the newspaper's graphics team under graphics editor Mark Cornell and two commissioned researchers and writers take three months (in addition to usual work) to prepare text and How It Works graphics. These displayed the basic working of familiar things, like cell-phones, Jumbo jets, and the Christchurch City trams. These were presented in five tabloid eight-page lift-outs already pre-sold to schools in the Newspapers in Education programme. > Commissioning two local published authors, Coral Atkinson, and Carl Nixon, to each write an original six-part fiction story. The authors' voice reading of the chapters of their story could be downloaded from the newspaper's web-site. > Involving readers in bringing history up to date. Christchurch was a planned settlement with a purposefully chosen cross section of English society brought to the colony in what are described as the First Four Ships in 1850. The Press published four group photographs taken in 1900 of the surviving passengers of those ships, and the results of the newspaper commissioned research into family histories of the people pictured. Some information could not be found so the newspaper invited readers to fill in the gaps and to send photocopies of documents and photographs. > Commissioning three young diarists, one 10, one 11, and one 17, to report their day. > Regional reporters writing about major issues facing the South Island. And then there's the "Love in a Strange Place" series. The Press deputy editor Andrew Holden told the PANPA Bulletin the series was sparked mid-way through the year when features editor Wilson received an unsolicited true story from a New Zealand woman about her first experience of love. The au- thor wrote of a growing attraction culminating in lovemaking under the stars with an Italian goatherd. Wilson thought the story was so enjoyable and well-written he put a notice in the newsroom inviting any of the staff to write a first-per- son true account of falling in love with someone, where, when or how least expected. The six-part series would run as part of a holiday read- ing series. He saved the original story to be part of that. Some staff contributed and the net spread be- yond the newsroom. The published stories confirm that love has more facets than sex. An example was a story about love and loyalty surviv- ing the Holocaust. As to the fiction stories, deputy editor Holden said that about the middle of the year the newspaper held a competition inviting readers to submit one chapter of an original six-part fiction series. The intention was to run the stories in the holiday period. "We had about 50 applications," Holden said. "From these we chose two authors who produced the sto- ries we are running." Readers' approval of the love se- ries and fiction stories was excellent, according to Holden, though by far the most popular reaction arose from the graphics series on how things work and supplying of family information about the first settlers. "Our appeal to readers to help fill in the gaps has brought forward a wealth of material," Holden said. "As part of the Press's First Four Ships Project that material will be sorted and collated into a list of sources to aid further research. The list will be posted on The Press website when completed. We'll be compiling all the new information and then publishing a special tab- loid mid-year." "We put a lot of effort into those two [holiday] weeks because they are key for our audience, many of whom remain in the South Island for their holidays," Holden said. [The Press circulates throughout the South Island.] "We also welcome many others from the North Island and over- seas. As a result our October-March audit always shows higher circula- tion that the winter six months. " And the Kiwi girl on her first Overseas Experience who unex- pectedly fell in love with the goath- erd? She's still living in that remote Italian village. Silly season stocking fillers Everyone's on holiday and you've got a paper to fill. Warren Page looks at how NZ's press coped last Christmas Graphics editor Mark Cornell and two commissioned researchers and writers take three months (in addition to usual work) to prepare text and How It Works graphics.