Between the National High School Finals Rodeo, the change in deadlines and delivery at the Rocket-Miner, and the rush to fill the dwindling days of summer, it feels like we’ve crammed more moments than usual into the last week. Life is in a state of flux, as always, and we’re trying to figure out what will be the new normal.
This is a time of high stakes, great opportunity and self-reflection. To make the most of the moment, the Rocket-Miner needs to be honest about what it does well and what it can improve.
To admit a painful secret, the newspaper is not all-seeing and all-knowing. It’s a common occurrence at the start of the work week to get a caller inquiring if there is going to be a story about an event that occurred over the weekend. Too often this is the first the staff has heard of this shindig, so there were no reporters on scene, but they tell the after-the-fact tipsters they would be grateful if they could share their own photos and impressions of the occasion. Sometimes these callers are willing to contribute; sometimes they don’t.
If there were any omniscient members on staff, they gazed into the future and saw the wisdom in quietly collecting their lotto winnings and retreating into anonymity. All who are left are mortals with a drive to share engaging tales, even if they are limited by their own understanding and the number of hours in a day. That doesn’t stop the Rocket-Miner from wanting to cover every meeting, every club, every game, and every noteworthy development, but it needs buy-in from the public to do more.
The paper needs your help. The truth is it has always needed your help, but it’s more important than ever before. The good news is that it’s a mutually beneficial proposition. What’s good for a newspaper is also good for the community it serves. A newspaper invested in the community should be a watchdog, an advocate, an educator, a booster, and a voice that tells hard truths and offers solutions to problems.
Somebody is always up to something, but many people are more likely to behave if they know others are watching. The guard on duty is meant to discourage people from misdeeds and catch those who don’t take the hint.
The newspaper should also present issues fairly and represent the parties and perspectives involved. It can give a platform to those who have been unheard and bring important issues to the attention of the public.
Want to know what happened at the school board meeting, what free weekend entertainment is available, what editorialists have to say about immigration or what’s for lunch on Tuesday at the senior center? Seek the answer to those questions and more from the print edition or rocketminer.com. Readers find themselves more informed after each session.
Newspaper coverage should document the highs and the lows, not just one extreme. It can use its spotlight to help people come together. Too many commendable projects fail because they lack the resources and attention they need to succeed. By featuring hardworking individuals or groups, the coverage can foster more cooperation and positive impact.
Like a trustworthy friend, a newspaper shouldn’t be afraid to hold up a mirror to the people it serves. A newspaper can ask tough questions and get more answers than the average person, and it should use that power to examine important issues and highlight solutions.
Whether it is presented in print or online, arriving on your doorstep or on your shiny glowing screen, journalism needs to facilitate a conversation. Communication isn’t effective unless it’s a two-way street. The Rocket-Miner is working to do its part by listening. As it heads into a new era, it is extra attuned to reader response. People are already calling and emailing about what they expect and what they like (or don’t like). It’s a good start, but more is needed.
Great stories act as fuel, for newspapers and individuals. They can take us smile, cause us to cry, push us to make a stand, drive us to action, and force us to speak out. But the Rocket can’t tell the stories that it doesn’t know about. It needs more people sending tips, photographs, letters to the editor, and articles for consideration.
Now is the time for the community to communicate what kind of paper it wants. What issues do you want explored? What stories need to be told?
Share your views through emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, calls to 307-362-3736, or letters or visits to 215 D St., Rock Springs, WY 82901.
People can also wield the power of their wallets by renewing subscriptions or buying ads to keep the lights on and the reporters reporting. That also shows how you feel.
You need to support what you love, or it may not stick around. That is true of the Rocket-Miner, and any other business trying to stay relevant and productive today.
The Rocket is asking for a lot in the form of your tales, your trust, and your dollars, but it is offering something valuable in return. It will continue to provide quality, unique reporting that is edited and vetted for accuracy, and contain the inspiring and thought-provoking articles that can help us improve as individuals and a community. Think that’s a plan worth backing? Be sure to invest your time and stories to make the Rocket the best it can be.
Rocket-Miner Editorial Board
Newspaper representatives: Caleb Michael Smith and Gregory Hasman
Community representatives: Trina Brittain, Mike Lowell, RJ Pieper