New year, new look and new goals

Jan. 2, 2018 — I spent part of my New Year’s weekend here in the newsroom as I do each year, tackling an annual and ongoing re-organization project of files and materials that have been staring at me for more than two decades — and the gaze of which has grown stronger after becoming editor in September 2016. The project entails sifting through boxes of old newspaper editions, special publications, documents, journalistic guidelines and historic reference materials that have been collecting along a wall of shelves in our newsroom since before I began as sports editor here in 1998.

With the new year looming, it was once again time to sort through the past in order to benefit our newsroom’s future. (Coincidentally, it also got me out of washing the dog, but you didn’t read that here.)

Over the course of a few hours, I time-traveled through about 50 years of local history captured in aged clippings, folded newspaper pages, pamphlets and long-defunct smaller community publications like “The Fog Dog” and “Beachcomber,” all of which played a role in chronicling our area’s colorful past.

They are also things you’ll never find with a Google search. They exist now only in the memories of those who wrote the stories, lived the experience or, in this case, remain preserved in the archives of a small newsroom.

I have to admit, I came into the New Year without any concrete resolutions aside from the usual — and ongoing — intentions of eating healthier, exercising more and procrastinating less (something I invariably keep putting off).

However, my trip through the past served to reinforce the unique responsibility and privilege we have, as a newspaper, to be the keepers of the past, chroniclers of the present and spark conversation for the future — all while serving as a reflection of our community’s hopes, challenges and particular moment in time.

That being said, I’m not making a resolution as much as offering you my continuing resolve, as editor, to continue striving for your trust and partnership on these pages each week.

“Integrity” is a term that has come into question within the realm of journalism far too often over the last few years, particularly at the national level where the need to be first is sometimes more important than the responsibility of being factual. And while we aren’t perfect, we certainly try — even if it means holding a breaking news story to make sure the information is complete and not based on speculation or assumption.

As we head into 2019, I look forward to the conversations we’ll have together on the phone, through emails, visits here in my office or while waiting in the grocery line. It’s these conversations that build the trust and partnership I spoke about earlier, and the integrity I hope you will feel is reflected on these pages with each issue.

Which brings me to something I’m sure you’ve already noticed, which is the new look of the Siuslaw News. Though the width is an inch narrower, we changed our masthead to allow more space at the top, along with a smaller ad at the bottom. We also moved the information box from the bottom to the side. The end result is more vertical space, allowing us to keep the same amount of news space while adopting a slimmer, less cumbersome newspaper that also helps cut costs as newsprint prices continue increase. It’s a goal that will help ensure the longevity of this small, community newspaper as it heads into its 129th year — so that someday, when another Siuslaw News editor is reading and organizing the archives of our history, like me they will be moved by the same sense of responsibility and privilege that now rests easily in that series of boxes along the shelves in our newsroom.

Write Siuslaw News editor Ned Hickson at nhickson[email protected] or P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439.


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