This is the week readers of The Idaho Statesman get to take a gander at the new fishwrap. And while we can safely predict some outrage over fussed-with sections or hard-to-find news stories, we could also warrant a guess that readers might shrug their shoulders. Because when the dust settles on all those new typefaces (they'll be bigger) and all those new sections (there's only one--a Sunday "personal business" section) regular readers might find that it's the same old, same old. In various teases around town, Statesman Editor Vicki Gowler has been promising a paper that is "going to feel really bold," as she told Boise State President Bob Kustra on his radio program New Horizons in Education.
But the publishers hope the biggest change will be most apparent to Nampa, Caldwell and other western-valley residents. The new Statesman will now include "zoned" editions, wherein Boise-based editors shuffle news and other content on the pages to more closely match different regions. They'll have three new zones: an edition for Boise, one for West Ada serving Meridian, Eagle, Kuna and Star, and one for West Treasure Valley serving Nampa, Caldwell and Ontario. "We're positioning ourselves as the newspaper of the Treasure Valley," Gowler told Kustra. Except there's one problem--the Idaho Press Tribune already lays some claim to that, But if she's worried about the big-footed daily pushing further into her market, Press-Tribune publisher Stephanie Pressly isn't showing it.
"They're really not putting a lot of new resources into the news product," Pressly said. "It's clear that they're after Nampa and Caldwell's ad dollars." In fact, the Statesman offered free kickoff advertising to businesses in the zone areas, to promote the new editions. Pressly called up new Statesman publisher Mike Petrak to ask for her own free ad, she said, but he demurred. Statesman managing editor Bill Manny said the paper has "made a modest investment in improving our coverage." By which he means a new high-school sports reporter and a "news assistant"--not an actual reporter--who will both focus on the western Treasure Valley. Pressly said with 30 newsroom staff in her office devoted to Nampa news, she's not losing sleep, just yet.
"We've known local news is 'it' for over 100 years," she said.