Our longest cover story of the year always is presented in July with the Advocate Interview, an unedited, hour-long transcript of a discussion with a local newsmaker.
As you probably noted on our cover, RISD Superintendent Carolyn Bukhair is this year’s newsmaker.
When we came up with the idea for the Interview, it seemed like the kind of article that people would say: “That’s a great idea, but I just don’t have time to read an hour’s worth of discussion from anyone.”
That point hit home, particularly after we transcribed the first interview, which featured then-Mayor Steve Bartlett, and we discovered that an hour-long discussion equals about 30 single-spaced, typed pages, or about 15,000 words. Also, we noticed that the Interview completely filled four newspaper pages with words, leaving very little room for pictures.
Now, that’s a lot of talk, particularly when our average cover story is about 2,000 words long.
So my column that year asked readers to drop us a line about the Interview and let us know whether we had come up with a great idea or simply taken a novel idea and buried it in black ink.
Happily, we received lots and lots of letters – more letters, in fact, than we had ever received on a single topic.
By and large, the comments were very positive. And most people thanked us for giving them an opportunity to read the unedited comments of a local newsmaker usually reduced to simple sound-bites on TV or brief quotes in the Morning News.
The following year, we rounded up a sponsor for the Interview, which featured former RISD Superintendent Vernon Johnson. The sponsorship allows us to expand the Interview to eight pages (from four), and add additional photographs and art elements to make the presentation more readable.
And last year, just as they have again this year, Doctors Hospital joined with us to sponsor our Interview with Mayor Ron Kirk.
This year’s Interview with Carolyn Bukhair is much like its predecessors: We aren’t trying to score a knock-out punch with our questions; we’re just trying to carry on a meaningful conversation with someone who has a big impact on our lives.
You won’t find any “smoking guns” in this Interview, but you will learn a few things about Bukhair’s thoughts on RISD’s changing racial composition, technology in classrooms, her rise to the top of RISD and other interesting tidbits about her life.
We’d like to thank Doctors Hospital for helping us present this unique Interview, and once again, we’d like to invite you to write us a letter or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting us know whether this format remains interesting.
All letter-writers will receive what soon will be a true collectible: one of the last few Advocate T-shirts inscribed with the logo for “Advocate Community Newspapers.”
I can’t promise you that in 10 or 20 years people will be offering you astronomical amounts of money for these shirts, but I can promise you that we won’t be making any more quite like these.
Because as I discussed last month, this month’s Advocate is our final publication as a newspaper – beginning next month, we’ll be a magazine.
We’ll still be available free-of-charge at nearly 300 neighborhood businesses, schools and retailers, and we’ll still be reaching more than 100,000 neighborhood readers – more than the Morning News, more than the Observer, and more than D Magazine.
But we’ll sport a more contemporary design, offer more colorful advertising and stories, and hopefully, remain just as relevant as we have for the many years we’ve been publishing.
We hope you enjoy this month’s Interview, and we look forward to providing you with a new look at us next month.