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No outside distractions.

Surrounded by larger competitors such as the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, as well as the Middlesex News and Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Editor in Chief Fred Kardon of the Enterprise Sun in Marlborough, Massachusetts, feared his paper might be swallowed up.

So this spring, Kardon moved to distinguish the Sun from its competition: He dropped the Associated Press and its supply of national and state news stories, then began bragging in the masthead that the paper now contained "All Local News."

"If you're surrounded by killer newspapers, what you have to do is fight back," Kardon says. "Their news hole for wire was bigger than our whole damn paper. We could not compete with that."

Kardon is by no means the first editor to have this revelation. Several small dailies, including the 6,000-circulation Alexander City Outlook in Alabama, have decided to focus exclusively on local coverage. "It forces you to write about the things people are most involved in--their hometown news," says Editor and Publisher Kenneth Boone, who dropped the AP about six years ago. "With the wire, you're prone to lead with Bosnia or Clinton's haircut."

Since the Enterprise Sun's 175-inch national and state news hole has been plugged with community journalism (the paper hired an additional reporter and expanded its freelance budget to keep up), Kardon says the paper's circulation of 7,000 has grown by about 300 copies. The paper also has added a "neighbors" feature, a gossipy column by the managing editor, a public records page and photo coverage of weekend social events.

"We basically turned our daily into a weekly that happens to come out every day," Kardon says. "A lot of the big papers are zoning.... They can zone all they want, but they can't touch my |weeklies.'"

Not wanting to "scare anyone," Kardon says he never told readers specifically that the paper would no longer carry national updates. The townsfolk must not have been too frightened: Nobody noticed.
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Title Annotation:Enterprise Sun of Marlborough, Massachusetts prints only local news
Author:Barker, Kim
Publication:American Journalism Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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