Any community newspaper that wants to survive has to evolve. That means more than having a website and a digital presence; it means adapting to new ways that can best serve its readers.
In summer 2019, the Tahlequah Daily Press added a new feature to the front page of the weekend edition. It's called the Quick 5, and it offers vignettes about Cherokee County residents. The idea is to ask five questions, which are answered in 50-60 words, and hopefully provide information that even people who know the subjects well will find enlightening, even surprising. Anyone can be a Quick 5 feature, and readers have come up with some terrific suggestions. One was to add a separate category featuring "protectors" – police, deputies, firefighters, and so on. That addition to the lineup is on the front page of our Wednesday e-edition. At the moment, Keri Thornton is profiling firefighters; she's already tackled the Tahlequah Police Department, Hulbert Police Department, and Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, and will swing back around to capture any new personnel.
Quick 5 is intended to be a spotlight giving recognition to folks who have done so many positive things. The editing we do is minimal; we ask that respondents pare down their answers and provide them as they'd like them to appear in the paper. That means using an online word counter. We will edit for spelling, grammar, punctuation and to conform to journalism style. We also ask each person to include with his or her answers a preferred facial photo, plus any suggestions on matter we may not have covered.
We are also open to suggestions, so if you know someone who has lived full-time in this area for a while; who is involved in and has made definitive contributions to the community; who possesses a unique talent; and-or who will make an interesting feature, let us know and we will see about doing it. If we don't know the person, you'll need to suggest questions. Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with contact information.
Quick 5 isn't the only relatively new feature for TDP. When the pandemic erupted in 2020, it became clear more needed to be done to recognize people, groups and businesses that were going above and beyond the call of duty to help their fellow citizens. These are people who save lives, help keep businesses running, or simply provide the uplifting and upbeat attitude everyone needs so much these days. Despite pervasive negativity, these folks stay positive. Thus the inspiration for the Community Spirit feature, which appears every Tuesday, and the Everyday Heroes pieces, which run on Thursday. The latter is a more individualized piece, whereas the former often deals with groups. Brian King is handling these features now, so anyone with suggestions for topics may email him at email@example.com.
And finally, our latest special feature is the brainchild of Staff Writer Keri Thornton, who covers courts and crime and local government. Keri has kicked off a bimonthly series called "Crime Rewind," wherein she takes a look back at high-profile – and often controversial – criminal cases. The first in the series garnered a few thousand hits on our website, so we know these stories will be of great interest. TDP appreciates the help we're getting from folks like District Attorney Jack Thorp, Sheriff Jason Chennault, Police Chief Nate King, and of course, the incomparable Jack Goss, a retired investigator who handled many of the area's major cases. These stories started out on page 3 of the Wednesday e-edition, but have now been moved to page 1 of the Friday e-edition, due to the overwhelming reception.
Keep those ideas coming; we listen!