I’m often asked why it is I love journalism, in particular why newspapers? In more than a decade of meeting print schedules, covering city councils and writing features on every-day people, my answer has never changed: I love building a community.
That’s the payoff of responsible, community-oriented print journalism, and nobody does it like print. Think about it — companies still produce newsletters to employees, digital-native companies are now printing magazines (Airbnb, Uber, Bumble, to name a few), and industry associations continue to produce their own newspapers for the companies they serve. Why? To build a community.
Since taking on the role of managing editor here a year ago (I can’t believe a year went by that fast), I’ve worked hard at and challenged our reporters to work diligently toward building our community. We created an editorial mission statement to “fill the pages of our newspaper and website with the good news happening in our neighborhoods every day” while also serving as a local government watchdog. Our mission is for The Paris News to “be a mirror for the Red River Valley, motivating people to celebrate what they like and to change what they do not.”
I know we’ve made huge strides this past year toward upholding that mission. I know it because I’ve been stopped in the grocery store and at other outings by readers wanting to praise or criticize something they saw in the newspaper. I get phone calls, both critical and supportive, from readers wanting to know something about their newspaper, or wanting to add a little history behind a story they read, or to thank us for the changes that have made the newspaper better.
While I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, I also know there is more work to do. There are more stories to share, more government actions to cover, more events to photograph. There is more community to build, always more community. Just ask anyone involved in a civic service organization like Rotary or Kiwanis.
It has been a challenging first year, but anything else would be boring. Building a community is anything but easy, and that’s why it’s worth doing it.