Newspaper resolutions

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, but then again I’ve never been one to change my habits – or my life, for that matter – in any large degree. But there comes a time, post-narrowly-averted Mayan/Zombie Apocalypse, when maybe a little change is in order.

On the personal side, and I’m only putting it in print here to hold myself to it, I’ve vowed to read more (actual books, not just iPad blogs and magazines), get myself to the gym (payroll’s been auto-deducting my membership since early December; it’s probably time I made good on that one), and be more organized. Oh, who I am kidding? I am more organized.

On the professional side, you’re viewing one of my 2013 resolutions right here – to write in my own newspaper more often. I got into this business a couple decades ago because I fancied myself a writer; somewhere along the way I allowed the administrative portion of this job to whittle away at that. This weekly column and my (almost) daily website blog are both steps in that direction, but I also hope to drop into the reporting fray a little more often (got my feet wet, again, last summer with that whole judge’s race thing, maybe you read about that?) and I fervently plan to flex the paper’s editorial muscle more frequently on this very page.

We’ve backed off a bit in recent years in viewing ourselves as Chenango’s watchdog, buying more into the approach of presenting the facts and letting the chips fall where they may, opinion-wise. And you, dear readers, have done an excellent job of exercising (see the theme here? I really am going to get to the gym, I swear!) that right in print. Sure, ‘30 Seconds’ remains a strong component of our website (although the old-fashioned phone line is rarely used these days), but what I’m most encouraged by is the tremendous increase we’ve seen – particularly in 2012 – in Letters to the Editor. While anonymous forums like ‘30 Seconds’ and social media fly-bys like Facebook comments certainly have their place, I’ll always hold Letters to the Editor – and their authors – in the highest regard. These are the people with the intestinal fortitude to sit down at a keyboard (we take them handwritten, too) and formulate their thoughts on and responses to our stories in a concise, but well-reasoned manner – and sign their name to it! That was, is, and ever shall be the hallmark of interaction with a newspaper, and the best way to get your message across to the masses.

That said, we need to do a better job ourselves at leading that conversation. That’s why you’ll start to see that space at the left-and side of the ‘Viewpoints’ page occupied more often by an essay of our own collective opinion on a news story or topic facing the community. The newspaper’s editorial is still a powerful tool – we often formulate our opinions based on both the facts we present in news stories, and the behind-the-scenes, off-the-record goings-on and cumulative history we find ourselves privy to. You’ll get more of glimpse of that in 2013, along with a marked increase in our “watchdog” role. If we don’t hold your elected officials’ feet to the fire, no one will.

The year 2013 will be an interesting one for Chenango County’s Hometown Daily. Like many businesses across the country, we’ll be forced to tighten our belts and do more with less. I’ll elaborate more on those changes as they come up, but suffice it to say that we’ll be taking a harder look at the stories we can and are physically able to cover, and scrutinizing our priorities with a leaner workforce. Although we have no plans, I assure you, to drop publication days or decrease distribution, you might see The Evening Sun more compact (page-wise, not size-wise) on certain days of the week and you’ll certainly see an even tighter concentration on our niche product – local news, sports and entertainment.

Although times are tough all over, we are proud to say, here at The Evening Sun, that we are still a viable, locally-owned business. The fact that a community of our size still supports a daily newspaper is an anomaly, to say the least, in our industry – so we’re ecstatic in the confidence you’ve given us to buck the trend.

As always, if you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see in the newspaper, or comments on the changes we’ll be making, feel free to contact me directly by phone, email, Tweet, Facebook or, if you happen to be old-school, face to face. I look forward to what 2013 will bring for The Evening Sun – and for Chenango County!

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunjeff.

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