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Posted on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5 a.m. offers progress report to the community

By Tony Dearing

To our readers:

Today we want to offer you a progress report, and an explanation for the reorganization and layoffs we’ve just gone through at

It’s an explanation we should have given you sooner. As a news organization, we report on other businesses when they experience what we just did, and we should have reported on ourselves. We regret that we didn’t, and we’re addressing it now.

Let us begin with a look at the health and long-term viability of Since our launch, we have seen strong, steady growth in readership and revenue. Comparing the first two months of this year to the same period last year, here’s the traffic growth we’ve seen: Average daily unique visitors: 62,662, up from 41,453, a 51.2 percent increase. Page views: 11.7 million, up from 7.6 million, a 53.9 percent increase.

By any industry measure, these are impressive numbers, and they have been fueled largely by the appetite of our readers for traditional, hard-news coverage.

As our audience continues to grow, so does our revenue. As a privately held company, we do not release earnings. But we can say that we are financially sound and meeting our budget. For January and February, we’ve added 100 new online advertisers. Last month alone, we saw our online revenue increase by 75 percent over the previous year.

There was a day last week when 70,000 people showed up on our site, and we didn’t have to wonder why. Local people were protesting Gov. Snyder’s budget cuts. The Michigan basketball team had just made the NCAA tournament. And we covered both extensively.

That kind of serious reporting on local news, business and U-M sports has helped us build a large and loyal audience over the past year and a half, and more than ever, this is where we’ll be putting our energy and our efforts going forward.

While we are encouraged by our growth, we remain a young company climbing uphill against a tough economy and a changing industry. We’ve reached an important juncture, and we’ve had to take stock of where we are, and what we need to do in order to continue to grow.

This much we know: our future is as a local news organization tightly focused on covering the stories that matter to people. Over the last year and a half, our readers have told us that serious news coverage is what they want from us, particularly in the areas of local government, education, crime, health, business and U-M sports.

From our launch, we have had a newsroom filled with trained, professional journalists. But we also said that we would be of, by and for the community, and in order to encompass the community, we do a lot of things that traditional news organizations don’t. We welcome community contributors in a variety of lifestyle topics. We invite people to post directly on the Community Wall. We offer people a variety of ways to engage with us, from voting in polls to sharing our stories on Facebook.

As a new company, it was not a mistake to try new things. We have to innovate. But we also have to step back periodically, assess what we’re doing, and refocus ourselves around what’s working.

That’s what we have just done. While our news coverage is driving our success, other things we’ve tried aren’t being embraced by our readers to the same degree. So we made a very difficult decision to cut back in those areas, and as a result, we laid off six full-time and six part-time employees, primarily in the areas of entertainment coverage, high school sports and lifestyle topics.

We have not eliminated coverage in these areas. You’ll still see our reporters at high school football games or girls’ basketball games, and we’ll still offer the previews and reviews of concerts and plays that you’ve come to expect. We continue to have community contributors writing on a variety of topics, and they add an important voice to our site that is mostly missing in traditional media.

But our focus will be more squarely than ever on local news, business and college sports, which account for about 95 percent of our page views and 99 percent of our revenue.

From the beginning, we have said that we’d be shaped by what the community wants. The community has spoken, and we have listened and responded.

We are a new company that is blessed with talented, dedicated employees who are working hard every day to find a different way to do business in an industry that is struggling. We don’t pretend we have all the answers. But we’re making good progress, and we’ll continue to evolve. One priority right now is to improve the layout and navigation of our site to make it as easy as possible for you to find the content you’re looking for. We’re doing usability testing this week, and that will guide the design of the site going forward.

We thank the community for all the support and direction you have given us, and we will continue to report our progress to you in the future.

Matt Kraner, President and CEO

Laurel Champion, Executive Vice President

Tony Dearing, Chief Content Officer


Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

Check the comments about Ed here. Check them on the story at the Chronicle. Check them on his blog. Check them on his Facebook. The words "The New Coke" come to mind..

John B.

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

I'm very familiar with the New Coke story. Significantly change your wildly-popular product, get lots of free (but negative) publicity for doing it, then switch back to the original product, gaining increased sales, as if you were 'responding' to your customers' wishes. For that analogy to work, would need to have intended to re-hire Ed V. all along. I don't believe that to be the case. Do you?

Moscow On The Huron

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

I guess you have to be a bit older to get the New Coke reference. It involves a major mistake by a business and the customer backlash that followed it. However, there is one way in which the analogy falls apart: Coke listened to it's customers, is ignoring them.

John B.

Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

Please elaborate.

Meg Geddes

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Oh yea - dumping the weekly "Spotlight" movie listings - is that what the community wants? That vote must have taken place one of those days we didn't get the paper.

Mark A.

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

I have to call foul on this. There's no such thing as entertainment, highschool sports, or lifefstyle reporters. These reporters could have easily shifted focus. They were reporting on what the corporation asked them to report on. If a company is doing better than they were doing last year and still laying off people, then they weren't profitable the last two years, there's a management problem, or greedy owners, period.

Meg Geddes

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

'Kay, first of all, letting Ed go was a bucket-head move. I'd suggest you hire him back, but I don't know why he'd want to come back at this point. He can do better. Second of all, what are you doing about your distribution issues with the print version? We haven't gotten a timely, complete Sunday edition of the paper THE LAST FIVE WEEKS IN A ROW! One day it arrived with no front section. Another day, all we got were the ads! A couple times it arrived shortly before 4pm Sunday afternoon, and last week, we got it on MONDAY! I don't have time at the moment to go into the various issues with the website. (And I know something about issues with websites) You're not serving the community. You're very obviously not being shaped by what the community wants. I don't see much of a commitment to excellence - heck, I don't even see a commitment to mediocrity. I used to check the site every day. Now, I only come in if I see some story about my neighborhood mentioned on Twitter. I miss my community newspaper.

Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

Meg, if you don't come every day you'll miss the important stories like the one about the skaters who made a public service announcement about tap water.

Rork Kuick

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Ed was the best writer here, by far. The things you think are precious I can't understand. I think the reason some types of stories don't get as much traffic here is incredibly simple - you make them less prominent or even down-right hard to find. Do you then wonder why less eyeballs see some stories? Recent changes to the top set of tabs have made it even harder. You've never had a category for outdoor or environmental news for example.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : noon

Articles are hard to find. I would never have seen this layoff story if not for the paper version dropped at my front door. And using the search engine didn't exactly make it easy for me to find the article online so I could read the blogger contents. On the other hand, I have no clue as to how best to create an online "newspaper"...


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

Tony says: "One priority right now is to improve the layout and navigation of our site to make it as easy as possible for you to find the content you're looking for. We're doing usability testing this week, and that will guide the design of the site going forward." I say: It's about time. In terms of aesthetics and usability, your site SUCKS. Always has. Sucks beyond belief, quite frankly. Shockingly bad. For an organization with the resources of the Newhouse family behind it, a family that has funded the creation of some of America's best magazines for decades, to put forth such a horribly designed and ugly Web site as the primary media product for a community like Ann Arbor, is stunning. Am I the only person in Ann Arbor who thinks the design of sucks? Am I the only person who returns to the repeatedly each day because of how well it's designed? Furthermore, I agree with the comments taking you to task for your lack of hard news coverage. Do you have reporters who are assigned exclusively to cover the U? Their very names should strike fear in the hearts of the PR flacks at the University.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

Green - How exactly would you redesign this site? I can't imagine any newspaper organization having an easy time of dealing with the transition from paper to online websites. Think about how sites are evolving now - it's becoming more and more video content. Is this the way should go? Making it look like a regular old newspaper isn't going to work. I'd like to hear your plan.

Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

green, you are not alone, by far.

PF Anderson

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

I have to agree with the others who commented on the regrettable loss of Ed Vielmetti. Most reporters would give their right arm to be as integrated into the community and be so aware of connections and relationships. You know he is doing his job right because of the people who praise him and the people he makes nervous. I know there were a LOT of people laid off, and astonishing percentage of the total force, and while I am sorry for each and every one of them, Ed is the person whose loss I will notice most. I am grateful that Ed, being who he is, will continue to report out, independently of I halfway expect some major new organization to gleefully scoop him up from under 's nose, with a "their loss, our gain" attitude.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

It seems pretty obvious that you are only "reporting" on the layoffs now because you are feeling the pressure. Your failure to report on it when it happened speaks volumes about the lack of professionalism in your organization. I can only repeat what so many others have already said -- Ed's firing is a great loss for, although we can still follow him elsewhere, and Ann Arbor Chronicle is vastly superior to you in terms of depth and quality of reporting.

Amy Thomas

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

I too will miss Ed's commentary. I sincerely doubt that it is an improvement to eliminate any intellectual content from a college-town "newspaper."


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

It's a race to the bottom...maybe you should outsource your content from Asia. Or mine the endless "interns" of Ann Arbor.

Steve Pierce

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

Dear Tony, You wrote: "As a news organization, we report on other businesses when they experience what we just did, and we should have reported on ourselves. We regret that we didn't, and we're addressing it now." Uh, no you didn't address it and no, you are not now reporting on the story now. Your reporters should be writing the story about what is going on. Just like what NPR did, reporting in the last two weeks about their fiasco over fundraising. This article is not reporting, it is nothing more then a press release. - Steve


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Bring back Ed! Bring back Ed!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

When replaced the 174-year-old Ann Arbor News, it was necessary for the upstart to win back the respect and trust of the community with an emphasis on having more openness, more integrity, and high journalistic standards. Unfortunately, you have gone the opposite direction on all three counts. As a lifelong Ann Arborite, it's sad to see what you've done to what should be a vibrant and engaged news community. With these editorial cuts, along with the placement to your editorial board of the lead PR rep of the largest institution you cover, you show an appalling misunderstanding of the word Community, and the word Journalism. is different from traditional newspapers in that it is more brazen about its negotiation between ethics and profits. is not different from traditional newspapers in that it has not found new or novel ways to deliver news and community content, or to encourage community involvement.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

Is Tom Perkins gone too? He will be sorely missed too.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

But anyway, Tony, what you say sounds a lot better than the truth of your plan: To deliver less content of lesser quality, while hoping to maintain the same readership.

Andrew Jason Clock

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Does use any of the many services that can verify web traffic and circulation numbers, or are we to take your word on it? Those that would like to keep up with Ed's writing can do so here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

Tony, Matt, Laurel, It is a slap in the face to those you laid off that you did not address this until now, and it is a slap in the face to your readers that you thought you could make such drastic changes to your content and think no one would notice and take concern. The decision to eliminate high school sports coverage is based on bad information or deficient intellect or both. It is no wonder prep stories did not receive the traffic that other sections did. As others pointed out, prep stories were buried on the site and difficult to access. When preps stories did have wide interest (rivalry games between Ann Arbor's three public highs school, for example), these stories were never displayed in prominent positions on the site where an interested but peripheral readership would find them. Preps content was so confined, only those who actively follow the stories on their own (parents and coaches) had the inertia to find them. The bigger issue, as some others also noted, is that &quot;front end&quot; stories were merely links to the full content on MLive. Ann Arbor was an important part of the state-wide high school coverage at MLive, which is the best in the state and wildly successful. But when decided it wanted the &quot;Clicks&quot; to occur at MLive, it obviously doomed traffic on the front end. It became easier to read and interact with prep material to do so directly through MLive. Evidence of this can be seen when comparing &quot;Facebook Share&quot; numbers on the postings, vs. the same numbers on the stories they linked to. Simply, more people were accessing prep coverage through the &quot;back end.&quot; Which is fine, so long as reasonably intelligent people in charge understand this very simple idea. Despite a tendency to focus on sports of limited local interest, had the best prep coverage in the area. Any lacking in readership is the fault of organizational limitations and poor judgment on the part of those who stil


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, Tony. You can't acknowledge the success and popularity of the MLive High School Sports tool, while at the same time saying that prep sports are not a priority to your readers. Your decision to cut and run rather than seek a solution shows a lack of creativity and vision.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

I hope you saw Jim Knight's reply to Macabre Sunset, which addressed some of the concerns about the future of our prep sports coverage. As for Mlive's high school sports network, we have been a willing partner with them from the beginning. Their high school sports tool is as good as any in the country, and we could not have developed anything better. You are right in that our coverage goes directly into the Mlive tool, and then we post short items on our site, which direct people to the coverage on Mlive. We share the traffic with them, and our decisions about the level of coverage are guided by the audience that we are able to create together, which is more than either of us could create alone. We don't view the Mlive tool as a problem. It's always been the solution for us, and it will continue to be.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Hi, What can you tell us about the new owners? Is it the same parent company that owned the News? I agree with the comments about your coverage of Rick Snyder. It seems very reverential. What's your relationship with the governor? Ann Arbor Spark? You can see how a candidate for governor would benefit from owning (or being a major investor in) the hometown newspaper so what is the connection, if any? As for your coverage of high school sports, why not get the school newspaper staffs in on the coverage? What better way to inure kids to the every day reading of the newspaper (website)? Get them involved and they will make the site a part of their day every day. Like we used to with the paper. MORE PHOTO ESSAYS! This could really boost viewer interest. Photojournalism will also die out with reporting if it isn't given anywhere to bloom. When I was in high school (at Huron), Jack Stubbs gave me and a couple other photography students a tour of the photo dept at the News. We got to watch him process an assignment and then we saw the shot in the paper the next day. I'll never forget that. I'm in the news business today largely because of that. I decided that was what I wanted to do and got on the paper at Eastern and the rest is... Treat them like internships. All news organizations have unpaid internships. Great opportunity to ensure an interested supply of future reporters, editors, photographers, READERS. Eyeballs for advertisers. One thing I think you are doing right is boosting local merchants as opposed to national chain ads. Keep it up. It's not just a news operation, it should be a pillar of the community. Walmart is not community, the Blue Front is. Pizza Bob's is. Bivouac is.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

We have the same owners that The Ann Arbor News did. I appreciate your suggestion about getting student journalists in the high schools involved in our prep sports coverage. We'll explore that. We do a fair number of photo galleries, but they're typically connected to events. We haven't done much with photo essays, and that's something we'll explore as well, though our experience has been that our readers really like the event-oriented photos.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

This may not be the proper format, but I do have a concern. A few weeks ago the UM public info person was named to your board. That person has a job to do at UM and most of it know what that is. Now, I haven't seen any more information about UM still paying their &quot;on leave&quot; police chief. All's been quiet about what is going on there. I realize Mr Jesse has moved on. But I fear a &quot;politically cleansed&quot; version of the UM news from here forward. I'm counting on you to choose an education writer and give them a LONG leash to dig out waste of taxpayer dollars and make it public.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

Don't worry know we are ever vigilant! :-)

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Cash, here's a link to a conversation we've had with our readers about David Lampe joining our Editorial Board, although he has just moved into a new role at the university. <a href=""></a> We continue to keep on an eye on the situation with the U-M police chief, and the community members on our Editorial Board have no bearing on our coverage.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

It's interesting. You say in your article about your focus on community, but I just learned the other day, that due to the layoffs, you wouldn't be able to cover the community theater groups in the area. I think it is important for the local arts community to remain strong, as they do have an impact on the local economy and enrich the lives of the people who live there. Why is this being taken away?

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

We are being honest with the community. We would like to cover everything, and cover it at a high level. That's what we set out to do. But there are things we haven't been able to find much readership for, and without audience, we cannot generate the advertising necessary to support coverage at a level we wish we could provide. We will continue to cover the local theater scene, and give attention to community theater to the extent we can. This weekend, for instance, we will have someone cover the Thurston Players production.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

The bottom line is revenue as always, sadly. It never was about content or the community in my opinion.

Alan Benard

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

You blew it, firing Ed. Bad move.

Alan Benard

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

And heavens, this site is ugly.

David Cahill

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Thanks for this article. Much appreciated!

Ruth Kraut

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

@Jason, I think their plan is to do it with stringers--freelance journalists who don't get benefits. @Tony, please share your plans for covering higher education. And I agree with the others about prep sports--it's very hard to find things on your site but I have always loved reading about high school sports. In fact it seems like a lot of the time I would get linked to MLive anyway.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Thanks for asking. Please see my reply to Jason.

Jason Karas

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

I do want more local news but how can do that with fewer journalists?

Moscow On The Huron

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

&quot;Our higher education beat is currently vacant, and we are in the process of filling it.&quot; I recommend Ed Vielmetti.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Just to expand on what we have said here, our coverage priorities going forward will be local government, K-12 education, higher education, police, courts, business, health, the environment, University of Michigan football and basketball and news coverage of regional communities such as Chelsea, Saline and Dexter. All of these beats are currently covered by one or more full-time reporters, and that will continue in the future. Our higher education beat is currently vacant, and we are in the process of filling it.

Morris Thorpe

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

Ed got fired? I think that's a mistake. His posts were interesting, insightful and unique. I had the feeling that he was someone who took his position really seriously.

Moscow On The Huron

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

Dittos on Ed. His work was the only real journalism I ever saw here; the only one who knows what follow-up is, and what it means to do more than just copy-and-paste press releases. You totally messed up on that one.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

Maybe we are of the same cloth, Ed was my favorite personality too. He was also involved in updating and providing comments on his stories and those of his fellow staffers.

Peter Nelson

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

&quot;we laid off six full-time and six part-time employees, primarily in the areas of entertainment coverage, high school sports and lifestyle topics.&quot; But how does this explain the firing of Ed Vielmetti, who was designated the &quot;lead blogger&quot;, and wrote some of the most interesting articles about local issues? He was one of the authors I specifically came to to read, because I knew I couldn't find coverage like that elsewhere on the web. I'd ask for a complete list of who was let go, and from what departments, but the Ann Arbor Chronicle already did this nearly two weeks ago!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Say what you want, but I don't think Ed will mind us telling you that you made a huge mistake laying him off. I echo what the others have said about his brilliance, tact, ability to find interesting information and share it in a way that was compelling and enjoyable. My hope is that you are the type of leader who will take this to heart and admit your mistake and avoid sticking to your guns on principal. I hope I'm not wrong and you'll find a way to bring Ed back into the family. This was a blunder and I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who recognizes it.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Understood. But journalism is the wrong career for those opposed to a little public bandying.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

We understand our obligation to talk openly with the community about our layoffs, and we're addressing that now. But individuals still have a right to privacy, and some of our former employees specifically asked us not to publicly announce their departure. We continue to respect their request, and we hope commenters would consider the desire of some of our former employees not to have their names bandied about publicly.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

I agree about Ed as well, he made the reader know he cared about what he wrote about. His responses were timely and always relevant to the topic. He did the homework and research to enhance the stories content. Hopefully, Ed will land a position with a REAL news organization that appreciates good, responsible journalism. For all of the local community, this is our loss. Ed, you will be greatly missed.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

Peter I agree about Ed. What an interesting writer! He is brilliant and missed. And so many times when posters were getting off tangent or backbiting, he would post something that brought things back into line. without being authoritarian about it.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Tony, your publication's coverage of Rick Snyder and local Ann Arbor city government is not first class. Don't pretend it is. It's one step above being PR for the parties being covered, it leaves out more than it includes and sounds like the work of reporters floating out their resumes looking for new jobs. Until that is addressed, you are not the news organization you keep promising to be.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:41 a.m.

And win or lose tonight, how about a story on EMU WNIT trip to the Sweet Sixteen? Come on....they are only 8 miles away........that's local.


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 10:19 a.m.

Tony and Company I appreciate the way you and your staff have communicated with us even at the least comfortable times. This may be the single most important link to success - maintaining a 2 way conversation with your readers/advertisers customers. Your success is probably as important to many of us as it is to you. We need local news. I would implore you to consider: Sports: 1. High school sports - I'm convinced solid high school sport coverage would be well-read if it is well-covered and clearly displayed. A simple list of HS scores and a link to a story on each - clear and concise-would help. Many of us go to M Live to locate it, even if it was really reported here and link over because it's buried in this site. Sport section format needs work. Look to any sports section anywhere.....a place for scores and stats is required. The the articles can follow. You'd get a lot more Sat morning hits with some organization there. General: I'm less of a fan of voting for the favorite posts then ever. I think it takes away from conversation and makes it more of a case of win/lose, right/wrong. LOCAL and UNBIASED. You don't need to be cheerleaders for any person or any area. We are capable of making decisions if we get unbiased facts. I realize that may be hard sometimes. Local pride is real....but sometimes taking off the rose-colored glasses is vital to seeing and reporting reality. Thanks to your staff...some have taken some tough blows from us and remain polite and even cheerful. Good people!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Excellent point, treetown!


Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

Not to mention the point spread and the over under on games when applicable.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 9:11 a.m.

I would have hoped for more details on the layoffs/attrition, but I'm glad you posted this. I think you're making a huge mistake on the opportunity you have to expand high school sports coverage. This is your opportunity to present something of unique value to the community. High school sports are a vehicle through which you can be an ambassador to each school, and surrounding area. The parents and alumni, even the kids, who are your future readers (ask your advertisers if they'll pay more to reach the younger crowd). Right now, and before the layoff, your high school coverage was poorly organized. Look at how the major sites organize their sports coverage. Lots of lists, rankings, statistics, lots of short features, very cheap to produce. The game reports are secondary. Unfortunately, there's no one on your staff who is a true link to the old A2news sports guard (sports reporters tend to be more technologically afraid than most). I think you should hire a &quot;king prep&quot; type who organizes this coverage and acts as the chief ambassador. Someone who can use the admittedly horrible pluck tools to create a prep destination.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

I appreciate the reply, but I think you need a new approach - one more in tune with the technology. No one really does that. Even when The Ann Arbor News was in its heyday, there was very little glue and the previews were dry and not terribly comprehensive. What you need is a destination. Rosters, results, rankings, statistics, schedules, standings (we call them the 3Rs and the 3Ss). Game reports don't need to be more than a couple of paragraphs - let the box (fka agate) tell most of the story. MLive has a piece of that, but it's not a destination and it's poorly designed and poorly executed. Too many teams to track, no one really in charge it seems. The current leader in free-throw percentage makes 1.36 free throws for every one attempt. Which is a neat trick. You only have 20 or so high schools to cover, so you can establish cohesive coverage. The old approach of sending out stringers all over the place is more a newspaper paradigm. I think you've found out it doesn't work any more. A well maintained web site and a columnist would be a more modern approach.

Jim Knight

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Macabre Sunset, We'll continue to work with each of the 320-plus varsity programs in Washtenaw County. We'll ask coaches to – as they have done for years – report scores and statistics after games, but it needs to be done in a new way. Pete Cunningham, our lead high school reporter, is reaching out to each spring sports coach this week and next, and he has set up a series of meetings to work with them and ensure coverage on, our sister company down the road. The goal of the statewide high school reporting area is to include results and statistics from every program in the state. You're right about high school sports coverage being an avenue to a specific audience, but even The Ann Arbor News couldn't attract enough advertisers to have seasonal high school sports preview sections. We found the same challenges in not being able to find enough advertising or sponsorships for high school sports. We look forward to going out into the community and working with people to get support to provide a level of high school coverage that is interesting and informative. We're in the early stages of making that happen, and I hope you'll provide feedback in the future.