How Many Homegrown News Stories Are in Your Daily Paper?

    by Jay Rosen
    March 27, 2009

    Let’s try a simple count of locally produced news stories in your daily newspaper. Yes, the print edition. The whole news system feeds off the flow of newspaper content, right? Lots of people asking, what’s going to replace newspapers if they can’t make it? Expecting amateurs to step in is dumb, and it won’t happen. But before we can face this matter of “replace” head on we at least need some current numbers.

    Let’s find out what the printed newspaper on the local level has been able to deliver recently, so we know in rough, round terms what we have to replace. Once we know in a ballpark way what the newspaper journalism, replacement level is, we at least know how far we have to go in realizing some comparable framework for a new system. (An even harder problem: how do you get the news to the people the print edition once reached if it comes to the point where you do have to replace the newspaper? First step: how many news stories were those people getting?)

    That’s where you come in. You’re here to help.


    Simply enter in the comments:

    Your hometown:

    The name of your newspaper:


    The url for its website:

    and the count for the print edition

    Number of locally-produced NEWS stories for which original reporting is required, including business and features and news sections:

    (A re-written press release does not count. “Required some original reporting” is the key marker. If it did, then count it.)

    Number of locally-produced SPORTS stories:

    Date and day of the week that you counted:

    Vincrosbie advises me on Twitter: Counts should include number of wire and syndicated stories, produced by others so we can see proportion of stories that are indeed homegrown. And so…

    Total number of stories that ran in the paper.

    Thank you, that’s it.

    Now this part is totally optional, not part of the study. But if you wish to discuss how hard it would be to replace that number of stories, you may also do that in the comments. Also, why my count is unfair, flawed, misleading, won’t work— put it in the comments. Thanks!

    Another option: do the count, blog about it, and drop the link in the comments.

    A little background. Kathy Gill, who teaches at the University of Washington in the Digital Media Program, wrote at her blog: “Today’s Sunday’s Seattle Times, for example, had two locally-produced news stories in the A section (three if you count the front-page photo); three locally-produced stories in the B section; one in business; and one in real estate. (I didn’t check sports.)” That’s a count of seven.

    Geoff Doughtery, who runs a news start-up in Chicago, said in this comment thread that the Chicago Tribune had that day published eight homegrown, original-reporting-required non-sports stories. (I followed up with him by email and got his counting rules correct.)

    Then Techdirt took it a bit further. “We’re not talking about huge numbers here.”

    I don’t know if that’s true or not. Maybe we are talking about huge numbers, or very very solid service. Maybe it’s less than some of us think. Or more! But it’s worth knowing. So thanks for helping us out.


    Andrew Cline posts his answers: 7 news stories in Springfield, Mo, 2 sports.

    John Zhu has his newspaper’s count and a good number of complications to factor in.

    I agree that it would be a mistake to equate “output” from Newsroom Zebra with “number of stories in the Zebra’s print edition,” but it is not a mistake to begin there if we are trying to right size our thinking. To draw large, quick or global conclusions from the simple figures gathered here would be extremely unwise.

    Ryan Chittum at Columbia Journalism Review picks up the theme: Just What’s Left in the Metro Dailies? He says,“If we’re going to figure out the next model we need to know what exactly we’re ‘replacing’—to use that term. I love newspapers as much as anybody, but many are ghosts of their former selves, and becoming more spectral seemingly every day. It’s getting less and less difficult to ‘replace’ them.”

    Also, what about the Turing test? :-)

    Tagged: hyperlocal news local newspapers newspapers

    49 responses to “How Many Homegrown News Stories Are in Your Daily Paper?”

    1. This isn’t a direct answer to your question, but it’s relevant, I think.

      The first time I went to New Orleans after Katrina, I picked up the Times Picayune on my first full day in town, a Saturday. Not counting sports, there were twenty-five local stories in that day’s paper. Twenty-four of them mentioned Katrina. It was mentioned in the society column, and in a puff piece on the Saints’ off week, and in an arts story about a new revival of a musical about vaudeville.

      Here’s the kicker: My visit took place more than thirteen months after the storm.

      When we’re thinking about the role that local papers play in a community’s life, I think it’s important to consider how that role changes during times of trauma and upheaval.

    2. Michael Hill says:

      Baltimore Sun
      Number of locally produced news and feature stories: 24
      Sports: 6
      Friday 3/27/09
      tweet @amhill

    3. Jay Rosen says:

      On Twitter


      Sheila Scarborough sent in the following count:

      Hometown: Austin, Texas

      The name of your newspaper: Austin American Statesman

      The url for its website:


      Number of locally-produced NEWS stories: 19
      (Front section 2, Metro/State/Biz 12, Life 5)

      Number of locally-produced SPORTS stories: 3

      Date and day of the week that you counted: Friday, March 27

      Thanks, Sheila.

    4. yelvington says:

      Augusta Chronicle
      Augusta, GA
      Print edition, news/biz/features: 15; sports: 7
      Friday, March 27

      Worth considering: The newsroom staff doesn’t just write for daily print; on the afternoon I counted, it was chasing several breaking stories for the Web, including new developments in a particularly brutal murder.

    5. Syracuse, NY
      The Post-Standard (Advance Publications – Newhouse), 140,000 weekday circulation.
      Friday, March 27 Final Edition

      A Section: 2 local stories plus 2 local briefs (i.e., articles with lengths less than five column-inches). Also, 5 AP stories and 13 AP briefs.

      B Section (Local and Business): fourteen local stories plus four local briefs. Also, 1 AP stories plus six AP briefs.

      C Section (Sports): 12 local stories plus 2 local briefs. Also, 4 AP stories plus two AP briefs.

      D Section (Features): 2 local stories plus 1 local brief. Also, 4 syndicated feature stories plus one syndicate feature brief.

      Total for the 38-page edition: 30 local stories plus 9 local briefs. Also, 10 AP stories, 4 syndicated feature stories, 21 AP briefs, and 1 syndicated feature brief.

      All in all, an excellent local newspapers.

    6. Your hometown: Cambridge, MA

      Newspaper: Boston Globe
      URL: http://boston.com
      News stories: 23
      Sports stories: 19
      Date: Friday, 3/27/09

      *I didn’t count one story about the war in Afghanistan from the Globe’s Washington bureau, nor the gossip column or the arts section (not because they aren’t valuable; just trying to play by the rules), and I didn’t count any briefs. However, I did count two Globe-written obits.

      Newspaper: Boston Herald
      URL: http://bostonherald.com
      News stories: 17
      Sports stories: 13
      Date: Friday, 3/27/09

      *For the Herald, I didn’t count the gossip column and arts section. Interestingly, 8 of the 17 news stories are in the business section.

    7. Los Angeles, CA
      Los Angeles Times

      Locally produced news stories: 52
      Local 18, national 11, international 7, biz 11, features 5. Does not include staff-written briefs or 12 staff-written reviews for film, books, theater.

      Locally produced sports stories: 18

      Friday, March 27, 2009

      Not included: Opinion section pieces and scads of original news posts from LA Times blogs.

    8. Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

      The name of your newspaper: Edmonton Journal

      The url for its website:

      Number of locally produced NEWS stories: 26
      (Front section 4, City 14, A&E 5, Biz 3)

      Number of locally produced SPORTS stories: 6

      You didn’t ask, but… Number of locally produced columns or editorials which req’d original reporting: 5

      Date and day of the week that you counted: Friday, March 27

    9. Guy says:

      Richmond, Va.
      Richmond Times-Dispatch
      Locally produced news/features stories: 23
      Locally produced sports stories: 6
      Friday March 27

    10. yelvington says:

      I also checked our tiniest daily, the all-local Bluffton Today (Bluffton, South Carolina), which had 28 news/features/entertainment pieces plus 7 sports, generated by a staff of 12 supplemented by some writers in the community. Now, some of those items would never make the “news threshhold” in a larger community, but they’re important to the people involved. The story count is somewhat inflated because Friday is the publication day for the entertainment tab.

    11. Followup to Sheila S:

      Breakdown of Austin Statesman stories:

      Front section: 1 statewide story, actual investigative journalism involved

      1 local story, could be replaced by everyblock.com

      Metro: local 5; one a pointless controversy at the community college easily blogged; one about hailstorm; one obit; one feature about a clown; one about budget in a suburb.

      Also 3 interesting statewide stories written locally.

      Business: local 3; a city press release, a corporate press release, and an analysis of state statistics;

      also 1 national story written locally.

      Movies and Life: nothing of local interest, nothing involving investigative work.

      Summary: Based on today’s sample the Statesman is doing a good job covering Texas, but I’m not convinced there’s much about Austin specifically that a little blogging would miss. That’s especially true if there’s more government transparency on the web.

      I learned from this exercise that while I rarely look at the Statesman home page, I would subscribe to a Statesman-staff RSS feed.

      The homepage has too much clutter of inconsequential stuff better covered elsewhere or better not covered at all. If there were a local and a statewide-only feed, especially if low fluff, that would be very useful.

    12. John Fleck says:

      Albuquerque Journal, 3/27/2009
      Local news/features: 12
      Friday entertainment section (only appears once a week): 11
      Sports: 7
      Zoned Northern New Mexico edition: 5

    13. John Zhu says:

      Friday, March 27, 2009 edition of
      The Herald-Sun (www.heraldsun.com)

      * 14 local stories in news & features with staff bylines. At a quick glance, they all looked like they involved some kind of original reporting.

      * 4 local sports stories, including a prep roundup (because anyone who has done a prep roundup knows that the amount of time and work needed to do one of these things are enough to do at least one, if not two, stories with original reporting)



    14. John Zhu says:

      Oops. Forgot to add location for my entry: Durham, N.C., circ. somewhere in the upper 30k.

    15. Your hometown: Boulder, CO

      The name of your newspaper: Camera

      The url for its website: http://www.dailycamera.com

      17 local news, biz, ent stories; 10 wire produced news, biz, ent stories

      3 local sports stories, 8 wire sports stories

      this is from Friday, March 27, 2009 – the local news production is heavy because a) there was a huge snowstorm Thursday with 5 stories about that; b) it’s Friday Mag day, with five local and two wire (ebert) entertainnment pieces

    16. Dayton Daily News 3/27/09
      A section local/national/world/biz: 16 local stories
      B section (sports): 12 stories
      Life tab: 3 stories

    17. Elizabeth says:

      We had 26 local stories in The Gazette today (Cedar Rapids, IA) by my count.

    18. yelvington says:

      For those of you who are wondering about the circ of your local paper, you can look up ABC newspaper data here:


    19. Megan Stewart says:

      Vancouver, B.C., Canada

      Vancouver Sun


      News stories and features locally produced: 22

      News columns locally produced: 5

      locally produced sports: 7

      Total local stories (no briefs): 34

      Total overall stories (no briefs): 49

      Date and day of the week that you counted: Wednesday, March 26

    20. Megan Stewart says:

      Oops. Mea culpa.
      The date should read Thursday, March 26. … yesterday’s edition.

    21. Rob Jewell says:

      Akron Beacon Journal, ex sports, 11 stories, 21 news briefs.

    22. As we count, how shall we account for the beat reporters who cover their beats with expertise but don’t deliver a story every day? When the next flood hits Iowa, I’ll be glad I have someone who understands FEMA even if they didn’t write every day.

    23. BCK says:

      Tulsa, OK
      Tulsa World

      Friday March 27th

      News Stories: 28
      Sports stories: 4

    24. Jay Rosen says:

      Via Twitter: @GeezerOnline:


      Mar 27 Sarasota FL, Herald-Tribune

      Print, Locally produced: News Features Business 17; Sports 5;

    25. ricky says:

      The San Diego Union-Tribune

      March 27, 2009
      News: 3
      Metro: 9
      Business: 4
      Sports: 8
      Features: 4
      Total: 28

      That’s the print stories (excluding briefs), which are easy to count.

      Not sure why we’re leaving out Web stories and blog posts, except maybe because they’re harder to count because we’re doing so many of them. But to leave that out of the equation is missing out in accounting for what would be lost. People say they “get their news from the Internet,” but the print newsrooms are subsidizing that. For now.

    26. ricky says:

      (PS: Mine doesn’t include wire, I though the point was to count homegrown)

    27. David McLemore says:

      Hometown: San Antonio
      Paper: San Antonio Express-News
      URL: mysa.com
      A section: 5 locally produced stories
      Metro: 11 stories & 5 briefs
      Business: 5 stories & 4 briefs
      Lifestyle (S.A. Life) 6 stories
      Sports: 11 local
      Friday, March 27, 2009
      Total Local: 38 stories, 9 briefs

    28. EricKlein says:

      hometown: Berkeley

      name of newspaper: The Berkeley Daily Planet


      Number of locally-produced NEWS stories for which original reporting is required, including business and features and news sections:
      20 original stories and one “local” wire story

      Number of locally-produced SPORTS stories: 0
      BUT # of locally produced theater and art reviews: 6
      # of locally produced architecture pieces:2
      # of locally produced articles on birdwatching:1

      Date and day of the week that you counted: March19-25,2009 (this now weekly paper was a 3 days a week paper just last year)

      Total number of stories that ran in the paper: 30

    29. JudiPhilly says:

      Hometown: Philadelphia
      Newspaper: Philadelphia Inquirer

      Philadelphia Inquirer

      Locally produced stories/Wire/Brief

      Front Section: 5/15/2
      Local Section: 14/2/1
      Business Section: 4/2/2
      Total Stories: 47

      Date: Friday, March 27, 2009

    30. alonzopurr says:

      McAllen, Texas

      The Monitor

      9 local stories in Sat. paper.

      Part of freedom newspapers: not counted articles from other local freedom paper in Brownsville.

    31. Hometown: Broomfield, Colorado
      Newspaper: The Denver Post
      Website: http://www.denverpost.com

      A section: 3 local / 12 wire
      B (Local) section: 15 local / 10 wire
      C (Sports) section: 14 local / 7 wire
      D (Inside & Out) section: 6 local / 0 wire

      For the Saturday, March 28, 2009 edition. Counted that day.

      Total stories in paper: 67, of which 38 were locally produced

      (Note: I did not count briefs, infoboxes, etc.)

    32. Daniel says:

      Any volunteers yet to put this into a database? It would be sweet to make a heatmap out of this, mash it against annual revenue, etc.

    33. Ed says:

      Hometown: University City, Mo.
      Paper: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
      URL: stltoday.com

      *Friday, March 27, 2009*
      Local news stories: 16
      Local business stories: 7
      Local sports stories: 14
      Local feature stories: 8 (weekly entertainment section)
      Total stories: 74

      *Saturday, March 28, 2009*
      Local news stories: 14
      Local business stories: 2
      Local sports stories: 17
      Local feature stories: 13 (includes weekly lifestyle section)
      Total stories: 71

    34. Jack Lail says:

      Your hometown: Knoxville

      The name of your newspaper: Knoxville News Sentinel

      The url for its website: http://www.knoxnews.com

      Number of locally-produced NEWS stories

      16 (I did not count stories in our Entertainment tab because it didn’t appear others were, just news, business, features)

      Number of locally-produced SPORTS stories:


      Date and day of the week that you counted:

      March 27, 2009, Friday

      Total number of stories that ran in the paper.

      51 total stories (25 sports, 26 news, business, features.)

    35. Jon Stahl says:

      l’d be more interested in knowing how many local beats each paper covers, rather than a snapshot of daily story output. That will provide a better estimate of the labor/expertise we need to find a business model to cover.

    36. Kathy says:

      Hi, Jay – I’ve been spot checking the Seattle Times since my frustration post earlier this month. The Sunday paper remains mostly wire stories; M-F papers vary quite a bit.

    37. Doesn’t completely answer your data request but I posted on March 23rd about the number of locally-written articles in the front section of Sacramento Bee (5 out of 17). I also posted on 3/15 and 3/17 about implications for non-profits who are trying to spread the word about their causes or organizations.


    38. Meranda says:

      I took a good look at each of the past week’s editions of my newspaper in a blog post here: http://merandawrites.com/2009/03/30/how-many-stories-in-the-print-edition/

      In a week the Journal & Courier (Lafayette, Ind.) published 143 locally-produced news, business, features and sports stories (not counting briefs), an average of 20.4 per day. Circulation is about 33K daily, 40K Sunday.

    39. Jay Rosen says:

      Sacramento Bee counts, quite carefully done over several days, are here:



      Thursday, March 26, 2009
      Total: 89
      Bee: 53
      Bee/Local: 34
      McClatchy: 5

      A) Front (Total: 27 Bee: 14 Bee/Local: 4 McClatchy: 4)

      The Sacramento Bee: ||||| |
      The Sacramento Bee Local: ||||
      McClatchy: ||||

      Los Angeles Times: |
      Associated Press: ||||| ||||| ||||| ||
      New York Times: |||||
      Washington Post: ||
      Denver Post: |
      Public Policy Institute: |

      B) Our Region (Total: 32 Bee: 26 Bee/Local: 20 McClatchy: 1)

      The Sacramento Bee: ||||| |
      The Sacramento Bee Local: ||||| ||||| ||||| |||||
      McClatchy: |

      Associated Press: |||
      Fresno Bee: |
      Washington Post: |
      San Jose Mercury News: |

      C) Sports (Total: 21 Bee: 11 Bee/Local: 8)

      The Sacramento Bee: |||
      The Sacramento Bee Local: ||||| |||

      Washington Post: |
      San Jose Mercury News: |
      Associated Press: ||||| |||

      D) Outbound (Living Here) (Total: 9 Bee: 2 Bee/Local: 2)

      The Sacramento Bee:
      The Sacramento Bee Local: ||

      Columbia News Service: |
      Universal Press Syndicate: |
      Horoscopes: |
      Associated Press: |
      Fresno Bee: |
      Western Outdoor News: |
      United Media: |

    40. Jay Rosen says:

      Another count from Meranda Watling of the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Ind.


      A sample from a more extensive list….

      Tuesday, March 24

      Number of pages: 28
      Number of local, biz, features: 13+2+2 = 17
      Number of local sports: 5
      Total number of wire stories: 31
      Total stories in the paper: 53 (local 41.5%)

      Wednesday, March 25

      Number of pages: 24
      Number of local, biz, features: 12+3+1 = 16
      Number of local sports: 7
      Total number of wire stories: 25
      Total stories in the paper: 48 (local 47.9%)

      Thursday, March 26

      Number of pages: 28
      Number of local, biz, features: 12+2+3=17
      Number of local sports: 6
      Total number of wire stories: 25
      Total stories in the paper: 48 (local 47.9%)

    41. Hometown: Peterborough, Ontario
      Paper: Peterborough, Examiner
      URL: http://www.peterboroughexaminer.com

      Monday, March 30, 2009
      Local news stories: 17
      Local sports stories: 4
      Wire stories: 36
      Total stories: 57
      (I included small stories as well as large stories)

    42. I’ve got two Canadian papers for you – one is the The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper (but still a Metro) and the Hamilton Spectator (a mid-sized Metro, a la Bakersfield):

      Hometown: Toronto
      Newspaper: The Toronto Star
      Online: theStar.com
      Local, Biz, Features: 35
      Sports: 7

      Columnists: 9
      Total Stories: 59
      Day, Date:<bold> Tuesday, March 31, 2009
      Newsroom Staff: 352

      Hometown: Hamilton
      Newspaper: The Hamilton Spectator
      Online: theSpec.com

      Local, Biz, Features: 13

      Sports: 5
      Columnists: 1
      Total Stories: 44
      Day, Date: Friday, March 20.2009
      Newsroom Staff: 93

    43. Even before you posted this request, I kept track of the local stories in the Seattle Times and the paper I edit, The Herald in Everett, WA.

      The Times is three to four times bigger than the Herald:
      220,000 circulation v. 50,000
      215 staff v. 63 staff

      So the Times produces a lot more local copy, right? Wrong.

      Over the past 10 days, Mon-Sat, the Seattle Times has averaged 20 local news stories per day.

      During the same period, The (Everett) Herald has averaged 21.7 local news stories per day.

      (I did not tabulate Sunday, because the Times has several addition Arts and Travel sections.)

      In today’s editions (April 8):

      Seattle Times:
      10 news stories
      3 arts/lifestyle stories
      9 sports stories

      The (Everett) Herald:
      13 news stories
      2 arts/lifestyle stories
      7 sports stories

    44. Tim Wheeler says:

      Not quite fair to use the present as your standard for how much locally produced news there is in newspapers, since many have reduced their news staffs by 25-50 percent in the past 2-3 years.

    45. Dan Schultz says:

      @ Tim Wheeler — I think the present is the only fair standard. Today’s local news is covered by the news staff of today, not the news staff of 2-3 years ago.

    46. LaTonya Foster says:

      Hometown – Chicago
      I am not sure if the count should include all of the stories (entertainment, business, metro, etc.), no matter the length, but I counted them all except for commentary and obits. The Chicago Sun Times – http://www.chicagosuntimes.com – for today had a total of 61 stories; 47 stories (excl. sports) – 31 homegrown
      14 sports – 10 homegrown

      This seems pretty high (compared to what others are reporting)…

    47. i find all these numbers shockingly low. imagine all the money that gets poured into producing these papers, and how much money they lose, just to produce that tiny number of stories. it’s probably a very bad business model as compared to how an independent freelance journalist running a blog could do it. tens of thousands of dollars a day are spent to bring out just a few original pieces of information.

      these numbers can also be analyzed from the point of view of representation. lets say there is a city of 3 million people. and that city has 15 orignial stories in the local paper that day. how many reporters do they have representing them? lets say each reporter does two stories a day. so that means that each group of 430,000 people is ‘represented’ by 1 reporter. is that right? in our work, we talk about how every village in India should have one person who knows how to capture and get out critical information, so we are talking about representation of 1 reporter per 3,000 people. i would have thought america would do better.

      a final thought — this reminds me of an exercise that we do with our community producers in india. we ask them to measure out the column width in a local paper that is given to a particular topic. how much space is given to crime reporting? how much is politics? how much is lifestyle? and how much is the critical issues of the poor — health, water, education. the results always shock them to see how much the media doesn’t represent them. it would be interesting to analyze the content of those stories, and not just the number of them.

    48. Erin says:

      I think it will be interesting to see, as time goes on and content goes more toward digital distribution (with perhaps even newspapers having updates throughout the day because they are distributed on e-Reader technology), whether people will care more about the number of updates to a story as much as the number of stories.

      On the same token, I wonder if newspapers are likely to merge with the television stations in their area as they go to digital distribution. On the one hand, this could be a bad thing due to decreased competition, but it might be a good thing if the depth and breadth of coverage improved.

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