Journalism is neither an art nor a science, but rather a craft. And crafting comes best with collaboration.
It’s January 2017, what I see as a good opportunity for a bit of housekeeping. I try to only say this once a year, but it needs to be said: We need your ideas! And your input.
The news industry is currently an interesting one to watch, particularly in the print sector. Newspapers are regularly reporting declining profits, cutting staff and getting fewer people to do more work. It’s par for the course.
As digital outlets grow in influence, so has the emergence of ‘fake news’, which reached a disturbing zenith in the U.S. election after a man shot up a Washington pizzeria due to the belief that the restaurant was harbouring young children as sex slaves as part of a child-abuse ring led by Hillary clinton.
Rest assured, you won’t find any fake news in the Fort Saskatchewan Record.
The good thing about newspapers is that they, typically, come with some level of integrity. When you read something in a newspaper you are supposed to have faith that it’s based in reality. We make a strong effort to ensure the stories we publish are authentic, accurate, factual and do not slander people or cast individuals in a negative light for no reason.
That’s why it’s important to us to print corrections when we get something wrong. No, we don’t print a correction for every typo, but when it’s a proper name or an important number, we certainly do. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a former mayor’s name or a local youth on a soccer team’s name. Accuracy is accuracy.
Having said that, I recognize our paper is not perfect. I take full responsibility for this. With two people covering a seven-day news cycle, there are times we have a lot on our plates. Layout days can be hectic, particularly when it’s a 56 or 64-page paper and I must lay it out on my own due to my reporter writing from council the night before or attending an event on production day. I’m always trying to find ways to improve the operation, but it has to be said that there will be times that we can’t attend certain events or include every facet of an issue or topic.
On that note, we can’t attend events if we don’t know about them. It’s amazing to me how often people criticize us for not attending an event when they simply assumed we knew about it. While we make every effort to keep our eye on the pulse of the community and to know what events are happening, there are some that fall under the radar.
So if you have an important sports or charity event you feel we should attend, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t promise we’ll attend, but if it’s relevant to the community, we’ll try our best.
The same goes for story ideas. While we do have an engaged community, it never hurts to hear more from people about what they’d like to see in the paper.
So I’d like to open the communication line here to see what addition to the paper people would like to see. When I was in Meadow Lake, Sask., one of our most popular features was the ‘old-time photos’, where we would print historical photos of people in the community and asked residents if they recognized them. Often, it would be someone’s great aunt or grandfather.
Another idea I’ve been toying with is ‘Identify what this is’, where we take a photo of a local landmark at an obscure angle and get residents to guess what it is. This could be a good opportunity for the paper to collaborate with local businesses to give out prizes.
Lastly, in the age of iPhone 7s and Android operation systems, I know there are a lot of crafty photos taken out there by residents. I would love to see more user-submitted photos.
I hope you all have a peaceful and prosperous 2017. I’d also like to thank all our readers for putting their confidence in us to report the news and community events important to you and your family.
Let’s make 2017 even better than the last.