“By the people, for the people.”
That little snippet of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has been running through my head this week.
He used it to talk about government.
It can also apply to newspapers.
The newspaper industry would call the Douglas County Herald a “community newspaper”. The tagline on our masthead bears that out – “Devoted to the interests of all the people of Ava and Douglas County.”
For the people.
But you can read that phrase “community newspaper” another way.
Each issue is a mixture of content.
Some we write.
Some we get from other sources – our political representatives, state colleges, various government departments, trade organizations etc.
And a lot of our content?
Comes from you.
You write letters to the Editor. You write updates from your church. You send us photos from your classroom. You stop by with photos of the deer your daughter shot.
By the people.
I’m still new at this “Newspaper Editor” thing. I don’t always know how – or why – things used be done a certain way. I don’t know what’s common in the industry. Or how other newspapers handle different things.
But I know this.
It makes me happy to scan a page of the Herald and see so much content coming from the community. It tells me you care, and that you trust us to do our job in turn.
It gives me hope that – in this era of journalist layoffs and newspaper closings – the Herald still serves a purpose in Ava and Douglas county.
So thank you – for that care and trust.
But – like any business – we have to continue to adapt to our surroundings to stay relevant and viable.
As editor, one of my responsibilities is to look where we are spending our time and decide if the results justify the investment.
My current challenge is the taking of photos at various events.
In the past, getting a photo to put in the newspaper was quite an ordeal. Cameras weren’t common. Film was expensive. The Herald had a darkroom to develop the film, which required supplies and trained staff. If we didn’t have a photographer or editor get the photo, the story didn’t have a photo.
If there are 20 people at an event there are probably 19 cameras. All digital, all connected to the internet. All capable of shooting a suitable photo for the newspaper.
Equipment is one issue.
Availability is another.
We have a small staff.
We love what we do, but – like you – we often have evening and weekend plans. We have lawns that need raking. We have meals to prep. We have birthday parties to attend. Some of us like to play golf in the summer. Some of us have kids involved in school activities.
Add in overtime and tight budgets and we just can’t afford to have a photographer at every event, seven days a week.
Hear me now.
What I am not saying is that the Herald is no longer taking photos of community events.
That’s simply not true.
We’re just trying to optimize our efforts. If the event in question is something that can be easily photographed by someone with a smartphone who is already planning to be there, then that’s a better use of everyone’s time.
If you haven’t submitted photos to us before and don’t know how please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or stop in with your phone.
Change is hard.
But we’ll get through it.
Like the comedian Red Green always says “We’re all in this together.”