Writing a column last week got me to thinking. I really need to write more columns. I don’t want the Star Eagle to be like the pizza chain that communicates with its customers only when apologizing for shortcomings and promising to do better.
In a way, though, that’s what it’s like running a newspaper.
Garrison Keillor once said, “A good newspaper is never nearly good enough, but a bad newspaper is a joy forever.”
When I worked at a daily for 15 years — a multi-award-winning daily — we used to get a copy of every newspaper published by the company. Some were small-town weeklies from down south and our reporters reaped great joy in perusing the pages.
What did they find?
Items that never should have made their way into print, things that made you laugh and only guess what was really going on. Our reporters — among the best I’ve ever worked with — clipped some of the items and taped them to their desks.
One day, when everyone was gathered around enjoying a chuckle or two with newspaper in hand, the publisher walked by.
“Those things are for editorial ideas, not your personal entertainment,” he said cheerfully.
I guess. But they worked a lot better for entertainment, at least for our staff. Something must have been said to somebody, though, because those papers improved after that.
That’s what we have tried to do since June of 2005 with the Star and since March of 2007 with the Star Eagle, improve with each issue. Have we done it? No way! Who could?
We get enough positive feedback to know we’re not in the “bad” category. Does this mean we never make mistakes and manage to please everybody? Again, who does?
As a family-owned newspaper, the Star Eagle is in a very small minority that’s ever shrinking — a media outlet not owned by a large corporation. I saw something the other day that showed a very large percentage of media owned by like six corporations. That’s a little scary. I like the fact we’re part of the minority.
As I see it, the Star Eagle never has and never will be “owned” by anybody. New Richland has had a newspaper since 1886 and I’m just doing my best to take care of this one during my stint as publisher.
The newspaper belongs to you, the reader, and that’s something we’ll never forget. We’re always open to suggestions, comments, constructive criticism and, yes, we very much appreciate positive feedback.
We’re going to try our best to remain a “good” newspaper, knowing all too well we’ll never be nearly good enough.