Humans are hard-wired to take the path of least resistance. That’s not an opinion, by the way, that’s a fact — a University of College London study published in 2017 concluded this: We’re lazy.
It’s not a generational thing, nor is it a human thing. As Caroline Beaton wrote in March 2017 for Psychology Today, “everything takes the path of least resistance: water, electricity and Google maps.” It is, however, something that can be overcome — you just have to work at it.
That’s what we’ve been trying to do this past year at The Paris News, and I think it’s working.
On Friday, we welcomed nearly 100 people throughout the day as they came to celebrate the newspaper’s 150th anniversary. It was a hopping day, and I didn’t get a darn thing done after folks started to visit — I was too busy enjoying spending time with them as we toured our facility and they got a look at how we produce a Made in Paris, Texas, product six days a week.
At the end of every single tour, our guests shared their thoughts about the work the newspaper has done the past year — there’s more local news to read in each edition, the stories are better, the return to reporting regional news is welcome, the newspaper looks better and fast updates online throughout the day are appreciated.
With each compliment, I gave the same response: “We’re trying.” And, really, that’s all we can do. We know there’s more work to be done. We know this newspaper can get even better, and therein lies the challenge: There’s no end goal for us, ever. It’s right there, but we’ll never be able to cross it.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
While I was putting together the 150th Anniversary special section (printed in Wednesday’s edition), I noticed how the newspaper changed. In the early 1900s, much of the front page was covered in national and international news. Through the decades, more local news started appearing there and then somewhere in the mid-2010s, it dropped to all but a large photo or two and a couple of stories — the path of least resistance.
We’ve worked on changing that mindset, and we work daily to ensure the front page is ruled by local news. Just in print — the following numbers do not include stories and photos posted solely to the newspaper’s website or social media or those that appeared in Paris Life magazine — the editorial staff in the first five months of the year wrote 12% more local stories (a total of 1,341) and printed 11.4% more local photographs (930) than they did in the last five months of 2018.
Add in the work of our freelancers and the submitted material from community members and public information officers, and the newspaper increased its local story count by 16.3% (totaling 2,128 local stories) and the number of printed photos by 10% (1,575).
In response, our subscriptions are up, our website has doubled in traffic and our social media following has grown. That support means the world to us because we are working hard to earn it.
Change isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve still got some work to do.