Sixty NPC members and guests listened intently when three local journalism professionals talked about what’s happening in their media field.
Penny Fisher, associate editor of the Naples Daily News, told the audience about a new glossy magazine that the NDN will debut in 2016. It will be mailed out to a select group of Naples residents. She reported that NDN advertisers and readers requested this publication. Each month will have a different theme, and the first month, February, will have LOVE as the magazine’s theme. Fisher also talked about a new TV show for the NDN — still broadcast on ABC-TV, channel 7, on Sunday mornings in the same 10 a.m. time slot — but with a new name and a new moderator: “Behind the Headlines” by Amy Oshier. The newspaper uses its state-of-the-art television studio for interviews, while the new program will also air some off-site video reports.
Sasha Bogojevic, a refugee from Yugoslavia, envisioned, pitched, negotiated, renegotiated, networked, partnered, hired, created a site and acquired venture funding to launch the new website, naplesherald.com. He said that it took two years to get it off the ground, and it’s his first media effort. “No one wants to pay for anything on the Internet; no one wants to see ads,” he explained. Bogojevic hopes to expand the coverage to include more real journalism with some breaking news. He said that a lot of business owners want their information to come up when Googled.
Gina Edwards, investigative reporter and founder of Watchdog City, an online journalism site. Edwards said she had the idea in 2005. She was happy to announce to the NPC audience that the District Court of Appeals recently upheld a ruling in her favor. Edwards had sued Collier Clerk Dwight Brock about a public records fee. He wanted to charge her $1 per page for copies of 350 pages of emails which were transmitted onto a CD. In June 2014, Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt had ruled that the emails were stored electronically and didn’t need to be printed, which meant Brock shouldn’t be allowed to charge Edwards $1 per page, as Brock wanted. Hardt said that the only allowable charge was the cost of the CD on which the files were transmitted. Edwards said the reason that she helped start Watchdog City was to encourage and support new journalism efforts. “How do people know if it’s real, independent journalism like members of the Naples Press Club practice?” She said that advertisers are gaining more power over journalism, and she sees it as a real threat. Edwards is also concerned with the low number of journalists on newspaper staffs today and the fact that many of today’s journalists are not asking the tough questions.
Q&A for the panel
Advertising Stickers on the front page of the newspaper: Fisher said that those stickers help pay her and other journalists salary and keep subscriber costs low, but she doesn’t particularly like them either. She confirmed that the NDN advertisers do not have any say on the editorial and journalism content in the newspaper.
Blogs and professional material: Edwards said that Watchdog City has both blogs and professional journalistic material — but journalists must stay free of a conflict of interest. She sees small media as another journalistic voice in Naples, another business model — such as the Naples Herald website.
Dependence on advertising: Bogojevic expressed the idea that for the long term the Naples Herald will be developed as a business that doesn’t depend on advertising. He feels that publicly-held media is beholden to bean counters and investors.
Investigative reporting: Fisher said that the NDN has an “I” team with an experienced investigative reporter heading it, Brett Blackledge, who has been with the NDN for almost a year. Edwards commented on the fact that Manny Garcia, editor of the NDN, is a well-known and respected investigative reporter. She fears that as editor, he won’t have time to continue to be an investigative reporter.
Public Records: Fisher stated that the NDN spends a great deal of time and money on public records to gain factual material for its stories, especially the ones involved in investigative reporting.