Dead Tree Edition had a bit of a breakthrough this week when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and subsequently the Associated Press, cited my article Quad/Graphics Has Quarterly Loss, Eyes Plant Shutdowns.
Scores of magazines, newsletters, and Web sites have referenced Dead Tree Edition during its 19 months of existence. I depend upon such referrals for most of my readers because I’m a klutz when it comes to search-engine optimization or social media (though I did my first retweet last week. I couldn't resist Margie Dana's comment: “B&N launches ebook self-publishing service called ‘Pubit’. God forbid you hit ‘c’ instead of ‘t.’ What a name!”).
But, as far as I know, John Schmid’s article in the Journal Sentinel is the first citation of Dead Tree Edition in a major daily newspaper, and the AP pickup of the story was also a first. (Gordon Hamilton of the Vancouver Sun has called Dead Tree Edition "one of my favourite sources for updates on the scandalous American black liquor subsidy," but his references to my work have only been in his blog, not the actual newspaper.)
I've tried to give newspapers tips about news in their area based on my articles about nearby paper mills or postal facilities. But the typical American newspaper has put up a firewall between its reporters and the public.
Have a hot tip to pass along to a reporter about something on his beat? Be prepared to fill out a generic “Contact us” form on the newspaper's Web site – and then to hear nothing.
But I do think that, faced with shrinking news-coverage resources, savvy professional journalists will follow Schmid's and Hamilton's example by looking to knowledgeable amateur writers as a source of leads and insight. The strategy is already fairly common at some business-to-business magazines.
An irony of this week's breakthrough is that the article Schmid cited took a slap at reporters for only reading news releases and not actual source documents. Schmid proved me wrong by digging into Quad's 300+-page "S4" report for the reporting in his article.