The Dayton Daily News has a new editor and new offices
Ashley Bethard is the new editor of the Dayton Daily News. She’s also the Chief Content Officer for Cox First Media, which includes the Springfield News-Sun and the Journal-News in Hamilton.
Bethard spoke with WYSO’s Jason Reynolds about daily news in the Miami Valley.
The Dayton Daily News decided to move to the Manhattan Building here in downtown Dayton. You're not even fully moved in. We’re in an empty office building. Tell me about the decision to move here.
We were kind of trying to figure out, 'What does this new hybrid work model look like?' The pandemic really pushed a lot of folks to go remote for quite some time, and as we’re moving into this new phase, we’re looking at how we create a hybrid model and what is the best space for us to do that. And with that urge to be back downtown, where there are just so many great things happening, we wanted to really be connected to that energy. And we're just really excited to be back.
And tell me about your new office or your new role. What's the first thing you want to do as editor?
This is kind of maybe a funny answer, but really, it's about getting a really good sense of my team. So one of the biggest things that we did in this restructuring and with this new role is combining this digital team and our content team and really kind of pushing ourselves into that digital first space.
So what is happening with the physical paper? I'm just curious. Where does it go from now? I mean, it has to be a waning demand.
Well, right now, we're really committed to making sure that we stay strong with our seven days a week printed product, and a lot of our newspaper subscribers who take the printed product also access and engage with our replica, our digital e-paper, right? So, a lot of times we're augmenting our e-paper with that later breaking news. We might have a special e-paper section that comes in after a sports game, after the UD Fliers have a game or the Ohio State games. So we've really been experimenting with those things and making sure that we're still providing more of an immediate experience to our print subscribers, who also really like the digital e-paper.
The Dayton Daily News has paywalls, and with all those free news sources out there, what makes it worth buying? What makes the Dayton Daily news a value?
We look to make sure that we're finding the most impactful stories in our community. And beyond just the stories themselves, we're looking to put the news into context. We're looking to go in depth. We have really strong teams that focus on enterprise reporting, really diving deep into the local economy and the businesses in the region. We have a really solid investigations team that also is focused on solutions oriented journalism, and those are things that we believe are critical to the future and the health of this community that you cannot find in other places.
What are some of those stories? What are the big stories for Dayton right now?
So, I know that everybody is really fatigued about hearing about COVID 19, but there is a very clear reality that, as our pandemic shifts into this endemic phase, we really have some challenges ahead of us as a community, whether that's businesses, whether that's how to balance a work life and a home balance. How do we all move forward together? What are the new ways that we are going to have to learn how to be in order to grow and to continue that forward movement as a community?
One of the other interesting things about The Dayton Daily News is how large of an area of Southwest Ohio you cover. It's a huge region. How do you cover such a big area and decide what makes the news?
If you want to get into the nuts and bolts of it, there is an editor who works directly with our Springfield editor and with our Journal-News editor to make sure that they are understanding, 'OK, what's the topic? What are the top stories in Hamilton and Middletown today? What's the top story in Clark County today?' and making sure that they're all working together to say, 'Okay, this is really important. And not just maybe for Clark County, but for the region in general--that's important for Dayton too.'
I love it. We’ve got sirens. We've got trains. We've got all the action today!
Yeah! When we first had our leadership team retreat, we all sort of looked at each other when we first heard the siren because it was jarring. But then everybody was just like, 'Yes! This is exactly the kind of energy that we want to feel surrounded by!' I mean, you, you get that in bits and pieces in a home office, but it's just not the same.
It’s not the same at all! Thank you so much for showing me around your new offices today.
Thank you so much for having me.