Why Don’t YOU Try Writing the News?

The local newspaper in Greensboro, N.C., is trying a new approach to help its readers feel more connected to the newsroom: The paper is asking readers to go out and write some articles themselves.

At the Greensboro News & Record’s Web site, registered users can submit their own stories by clicking on a link. An editor gathers submissions, makes a few small edits, then publishes the articles online — sometimes within hours. Among recent stories written by readers: a feature on an upcoming cotton-mill convention and a primer on Social-Security reform.

The Northwest Voice, from the publisher of the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, includes news articles and photographs submitted by readers.

In the past year, a handful of small newspapers have launched variations on that model. Newspaper publishers are eager to find new ways to connect to readers — daily newspaper circulation dropped 11% between 1990 and 2003, according to Editor & Publisher magazine. Now, as do-it-yourself Web publishing tools are making it easier for laypeople to create blogs, newspapers are borrowing ideas from those informal Web journals in an effort to make their own coverage more accessible, and, they hope, attract more readers.