Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Our sacred quest
Vail, CO Colorado
I am an editor by trade and outlook. So it was a great revelation that the news is only part of a newspaper’s purpose.
Yep. True. Turns out that helping build a thriving business community and supporting service groups are just as important.
That gasp you just heard came from the newsroom – you know, the talent, the priesthood. And the publisher just committed blasphemy.
But we’re not just about news breaking, truth telling and providing the community forum that brings us all together, crucial as that role is by itself.
The ability of this forum to match readers with advertisers strengthens our community in real ways beyond sharing information and ideas. Healthier businesses employ more people, improve the tax base and are better able to give back.
Non-profit organizations do nothing but raise the quality of life, which makes our community that much more of a better place, and completing a virtuous circle that in turn enables the paper to fulfill its purpose better.
Each part of this trinity must stay in balance. And that’s the tricky part.
The community conscience can easily morph into scold or Inquisitor, partisan propagandist or perhaps worse, avoid any unpleasant reality and become no more than a flatterer instead of that true friend who cares enough to challenge you from time to time.
Plenty of papers fall into one of those traps, and every one misses that sweet spot in judgment with some stories. This is not easy stuff.
And that’s just the news and commentary part, arguably easier than building clients’ business with a model that, properly executed, shoots itself in the foot on purpose. Business operators, as you might imagine, don’t always appreciate the means by which they attract more customers who of course have a wide range of tastes, views and interests.
Balance comes into play even with supporting the community service groups and causes, the fun stuff. Reader engagement and advertising set the table for this part of the puzzle. Too little support and we’re not living up to our purpose. Too much and the business can get into trouble, particularly in down times, and that breaks the circle for long-term success.
As editor, I know it begins with the readers, who thankfully still pick up the Vail Daily in crazy numbers not seen in “normal” places.
As publisher, I know these also are our customers’ customers – fuel for an engine that cannot run on news alone in this sacred quest.
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