Democrat executive editor Lou Heldman did not attend the Miami Beach conclave, but Deichmiller's memo apparently was such an inspiration that two weeks ago Heldman devoted his entire Sunday column to smooching the collective tush of Generation X. "The Democrat can become a lot more relevant. We're listening to our own younger staffers and we'd also like to hear from our Generation X readers," the former Miami Herald editor gushed.
What Heldman failed to disclose is that the Democrat is set to debut a new weekly McAlternative called Substance, a publication both conceived and planned in the fuddy-duddy Democrat newsroom and edited by wordsmith Deichmiller.
Heldman says he didn't mention Substance because the tabloid is far from being a reality. "I didn't talk about it because nothing's happened on it, really," he explains. "It's just something to think about."
That's news to Deichmiller, the new Substance editor. He says Democrat staffers have been planning the tabloid for eighteen months -- working long hours, in fact, in the Democrat newsroom. "The prototype issue is slated for release at the end of September," he reports. "If all goes well with focus groups, we hope to be up and running in five weeks."
Deichmiller says Tallahassee was the natural choice for a McAlternative, owing to its 50,000 college students, but that other KRI dailies are sure to follow suit. "We're the first ones out of the blocks because of our own demographic peculiarities," he notes. "But I feel fairly certain that each product will be tailored to its particular market. Knight-Ridder is deeply committed to capturing a younger market. Our readership is aging, and something's got to change or we're going to bury our last subscribers in about 30 years."
And what can we expect from KRI's presumptuously titled weekly? Deichmiller doesn't want to discuss content specifically, but he promises plenty of "hard news" and "in-depth political and social commentary." He says he's been combing a stack of alternative weeklies for ideas. "We also want to try to distance ourselves as much as possible from the Democrat," he stresses, adding that he plans to hire a "totally independent staff" -- once there's "a corporate payroll structure in place.