As I write this we stand on the verge of a new year and new possibilities for continuing to improve your community Sun Newspaper.
The first thing that comes to mind is the question of what is a community newspaper, its mission and it goals? The answer can be summed up fairly simply. Our job is to build bridges of communication between our readers and their neighbors, friends and family members, between our readers and their local leaders and between our readers and their local merchants.
Over the past year we have endeavored to make the paper more inclusive of the voices of our readers. We found that over time, what we do as editors, writers, and photographers has changed along with the expanding technology we use to produce each edition of the Sun, as well as the other newspapers we also publish out of our office on Main Street in Seal Beach.
As our world has become more advanced in communicating electronically, our need to engage our readers more and more as part of the creative and reporting process becomes clear. A community newspaper belongs to the people it represents. Additionally, the more this becomes clear, the more we realize the need to engage our readers to help us as another set of eyes, ears and yes, writers and photographers. Although technology growth such as e-mail, social media, and other forms of electronic communication has allowed us to do our jobs at a much faster pace than ever before, with that also comes the need to take on the tasks of editing multiple newspapers.
We depend on people who let us know what is going on in their neighborhoods. We come further down the road of depending on a litany of our readers’ guest columns, opinions, letters to the editor, press releases and photographs. We also rely on news tips, either by e-mail or sometimes the old fashioned way—by telephone. It was an urgent phone call a few months ago that helped us respond quickly during one of the most tragic but important stories we have ever done here in Seal Beach.
While making the point that we want to engage our readers in the process of creating the newspaper, it does not seem enough to merely pay lip service to the proposition.
In 2011, we took the concept a step further and help the first Sun Newspaper 101 class for those community members and readers that were interested in how they could better relate their information to our editorial staff. We covered the basics of how to write a proper press release, what kind of information we need and in what format. We also discussed how to take photos that work well in the newspaper.
The class was well attended by people who said they learned to use some useful tools. Many of them went on to submit writings and/or photos that were published in the Sun. To kick off the New Year and get things started in the right direction, the paper will be holding another Sun Newspaper 101 class on Saturday, Jan 14. The class will meet from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Sun Newspapers office at 216 Main St., Seal Beach. Those who want to attend need to RSVP by e-mail to register for the class. Send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you there, next year.
Dennis Kaiser is editor of the Sun Newspapers.