January 22, 2013 | Back to: Opinion

Answering questions, and posing a few more

Considering we’re on the cusp of The Union’s 150th anniversary, which we’ll celebrate in 2014, there likely have been as many different approaches to producing this daily newspaper as there have been editors and publishers who have the served it.

One thing that has remained the same throughout those decades, however, is The Union’s continued commitment to covering this community. Of course, we serve the role of a community newspaper knowing full well that we live in a time where a world of information literally is at our fingertips. So more than ever, we want to know what you want to read.

And that certainly centers on local news and information.

Over the past couple of months, our publisher, Dave Schmall, and I have invited the community to join us for “a leisurely chat” and “Coffee with Dave and Brian ” (FYI, our next one is set for Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Northridge on Combie Road in south county; keep an eye out for advertisements with more details).

In addition to enjoying cups of coffee at both the Flour Garden in the Glenbrook Basin and Summer Thyme’s on Colfax Avenue, we’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to hear feedback on the paper from our off-the-rack readers, subscribers and, with hope, soon-to-be subscribers.

Those attending have asked all kinds of questions about our approach to providing news, from why we put crime stories on the front page (you read them; and we’ve got the stats to prove it), to why we allow some stories to be free to the public at TheUnion.com (breaking news, press releases and public safety stories should always be accessible) to how can their perspective be better represented on our opinion pages (write a Letter to the Editor or an Other Voices submission).

But in addition to answering questions, we’re also posing them.

Not only do we want to know what you think of the job we’re doing on the news we’re covering, but what are the stories we’re not?

What issues would you like to see us dig into through one of our special reports? (They’re known as our “big reads” in the newsroom, which we plan to publish on a monthly basis in the coming year).

In 2012, these projects allowed us delve deeper into topics such as Nevada County Consolidated’s fire tax, the changing landscape of local education and a surprising spike in residential burglaries. Two of the topics we’ve already slated for such reports are the role nonprofit organizations play in our community and a closer look at the future of south county, which has a number of development projects on the table, including the proposed Rincon del Rio senior living community and the long-planned Higgins Marketplace shopping center.

Another of the questions posed during our most recent coffee talk was how to get information published on events The Union doesn’t staff? We’ve long been glad to make use of citizen journalists, or our community correspondents, in order to provide comprehensive coverage of the community. Whether through our daily “Prep Roundup” in Sports, which we’re able to share thanks to a group of dedicated coaches who call in their game reports, or our weekly Know Your Nonprofit, a feature highlighting the area nonprofit organizations, we do get by with a little help from our friends.

If you have a community event, a feature story and photo — or perhaps even a news tip — we’re always happy to help spread the word.

There are several ways to contribute to The Union’s coverage, whether by visiting TheUnion.com and clicking “Contribute” under “Reader Tools” at the bottom of the home page, by emailing stories and photos to TownTalk@TheUnion.com or by contacting me directly at bhamilton@theunion.com or 530-477-4249.

A few more projects we’re working on at The Union are also geared to build bridges deeper into our community.

One is the organization of The Union’s editorial board, which consists of not only newsroom editors at The Union, but also colleagues from other departments as well as members of the community.

We will introduce our editorial board members, who will help establish The Union’s stance on local issues to be shared in editorials, in coming weeks.

We are also creating a community advisory group, which we plan to convene in March and hope will foster an opportunity for further feedback on the newspaper’s role in the community and how well we are performing in it.

Another opportunity to provide feedback is also coming right around the corner via The Union’s reader survey, which provides information on the appeal of our hard work and helps us determine where we allocate our resources in order to better serve our community.

We do hope you will use one of these opportunities to help us meet that goal, even if you don’t get a chance to take us up on one of our leisurely chats over a cup of coffee.

Contact Managing Editor Brian Hamilton via email at bhamilton@theunion.com or by phone at 530-477-4249.º


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The Union Updated Jan 22, 2013 06:12PM Published Jan 22, 2013 06:12PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.