Tonight in Online Journalism, we were lucky enough to hear a presentation by Mike Feeley of The Patriot News and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and it is always an inspiring experience when we get to meet graduates of this program who have had success in their fields. When Mr. Feeley first came to Bloomsburg in 1983, he immediately went to the Press Enterprise and asked for a job in the sports department. During college, he had three internships before he graduated. After he graduated, there were no jobs in the journalism field so he worked for his brother’s underwater construction company before eventually getting a full time position back at the Press Enterprise and moving to the Patriot News two years later.
In December 2012, The Patriot News made a shift from publishing 7 days a week to only 3 days a week and has shifted its focus to a digital format. The Patriot News has realized that the newspaper industry is changing fast. Mr. Feeley talked a lot about how newspaper companies need to give the people the news when they want it. They have realized that switching to digital gives them more freedom for when they can provide the news whereas a print publication always came out every morning. Online, people can access the news whenever and wherever they choose. Their website can get up to a million page views per day. 50% of their viewers are on mobile devices and they have seen a 40% growth in viewers so far this year. This is an important shift to make because the news business is very reliant on the internet. We have so much access and we no longer have to wait for news sources to update, the internet is almost automatic.
The Patriot News won their Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They released a story about the allegations against Sandusky in March of 2011 and nothing happened afterwards. Months later, the attorney general announced they would be having a press conference and posted the allegations against Sandusky online, not realizing that they were public. The Patriot News was able to print the information that was posted before the attorney general removed it. After the information spread, the attorney general was forced to put it back online and the story broke. They worked diligently for months with no days off to get all the information that was unfolding during this scandal. Mr. Feeley believes that the most interesting part of this whole story is the cover up and the fact that high-up university officials tried to hide the scandal from the world and slip it under the rug. In order to do their best work and be sensitive to the situation, Patriot reporters spoke to attorneys and sexual abuse counselors before interviewing victims.
Getting to hear Mr. Feeley talk about his job was awesome. I learned a lot about the field and how much technology and media is changing the industry. It is important to keep up with the evolving world or you will get left behind. I think the Patriot News is doing great with acknowledging this shift and are keeping up with what their consumers want.