Civics Today: What’s up with the Keizertimes?

Regardless of whether or not you trust or distrust it, it is difficult to deny the impact that news media has on a city. 

In Keizer, a variety of both local and state/national publications are available to subscribe to for news, however, as for a dedicated local paper for Keizer, there is only Keizertimes

In an effort to learn and display more about what the newspaper does, the publisher, Lyndon Zaitz, sat down to explain his job as well as what exactly a local newspaper does for the city it resides in. 

A family-owned community newspaper, Keizertimes purports no political or ideological agenda, focusing instead on unbiased, fact-based news coverage focused on the “seven square miles of the city that is important to the family and senior households,” according to Zaitz. 

Zaitz, who has been with Keizertimes since 1994, has spent the last 17 years, since 2007, as the publisher for the newspaper which requires a number of special duties such as managing story leads that come in, handling the day-to-day finances as well as writing and preparing for future special issues of the Keizertimes

Zaitz described his media diet as a global one in that the usual suspects of what he reads cover both local and national publications and websites. 

“The more I am aware, the better I can format the news that the public wants,” Zaitz stated. 

This educated view is the standard Zaitz holds for all staff, noting that it is crucial to adopt habits such as these to be able to stay up-to-date on what is going on. 

Zaitz narrowed the skill list down to being observant, listening, reading and, most importantly, asking questions. 

When asked what local news is important for a city, Zaitz responded that “A functioning democracy depends on an informed citizenry. “

The general public is entitled to know what goes on in their surroundings and in order to help facilitate this right, local outlets have a responsibility to cover everything open to the public, such as city meetings. 

It stands to reason that, with more knowledge held by and input from the public, city decisions can be made to better serve the majority due to more people weighing in on the topic, or at least having knowledge of it. 

Zaitz also noted simply that, “Social media is not news.”

In regards to the paper itself, Zaitz provided an in-depth look at how the proverbial sausage is made. 

The typical week starts off each Monday and Tuesday with staff being dedicated to gathering information for stories for that week’s issue, including interviewing news makers. 

“We follow news tips that come to us, we also reach out to law enforcement and public safety agencies to see what happened the night before,” Zaitz said. 

This same process is repeated for both Thursdays and Fridays as well with a heavier focus on conducting lengthy interviews which require time to filter through. 

Written stories are shared via an internal program amongst staff where they are edited and proofed by staff. 

Each Wednesday, print day, represents the sprint Keizertimes performs to ensure each story is properly processed and ready for publication. 

On print days, staff will begin with creating a breakdown of how the issue will be laid out, such as what stories go on what page. 

Staff will then paginate the paper, utilizing the InDesign program. 

This daunting task requires an extensive knowledge of graphic design layout as well as a working knowledge of the program itself. 

Pagination includes the placing of not only stories but also photos (many of which are also sourced by Keizertimes reporters), advertisements as well as any number of legal advertisements. 

Once everything is placed, pages are printed then painstakingly pored over by staff to ensure accuracy as well as any mistakes. 

“Every story in the paper is read a number of times to assure accuracy,” Zaitz said. 

“The devil is in the details so attention is paid to headlines and photo captions.”

After multiple rounds of editing and read-throughs, the paper is made into a final version that has each page listed out by number. 

This is where the last round of read-throughs occurs to find any remaining mistakes needing correction. 

After this, the paper is sent to press where the PDF will be downloaded and placed onto tangible pages. 

From there, the paper is delivered out to customers while a stack is brought to the Keizertimes office so it can be distributed out to various businesses in the city. 

A difficult task the publisher must undertake is that of determining what is newsworthy. 

This idea, often the source of why some distrust the news media so strongly, revolves around understanding what is newsworthy, or in other words, what stories will affect the most citizens. 

For Keizertimes, Zaitz described how residents care about what is going on in the city including actions taken by the city council as well as its numerous departments.

News about and from the community is always taken seriously and includes news about the school and its sports, organizations in the city, new businesses or those coming under new management as well as interesting people in Keizer. 

As critical as ensuring the most impactful stories are delivered is making sure that those stories are accurate. 

Fact-checking is an important component for any media outlet and professional journalism cannot and will not rely on gossip or half-truths, according to Zaitz. 

While it may be impossible to deliver a truly unbiased story, accuracy is always striven for as information gathered is from multiple sources. 

Zaitz also opened up about the various qualities that make someone fit for a career in news, revealing that a wide array of skill sets can properly prepare someone. 

In terms of education, Zaitz noted that some staff have had a great deal of it while others have not though not having a great deal of education does not preclude one from the field, according to Zaitz.

“Many people take journalism courses to prepare for a career in media, though that is not as necessary as courses in English, writing and history,” Zaitz said. 

Pressing further, Zaitz listed other important qualities including: being able to properly observe events as well as having a well-honed sense of curiosity.

When writing, Keizertimes, like most other authoritative news outlets, utilize the Associated Press writing style guide when creating a story. 

Keizertimes takes that formula and twists it to better display local stories with Zaitz noting that “we like to write stories as if we are telling the story to a friend.”

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-105

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