Sunday began National Newspaper Week. This is a tough time for newspapers, as most know. It’s also a time for those of us in this industry to be proud.
We work hard to serve our communities. Look, you can get national stories at any one of hundreds of papers, television stations or online apps. Local news is a lot harder to come by.
Our newsroom’s focus is on the Chippewa Valley. Whether that’s telling you what our local governments are up to or covering your child’s team, we’re focused on bringing you stories that you’re not going to see when you flip through the cable listings. This is home. This is where we have chosen to live and work. And this is where we want our spotlight to shine the brightest.
Recent local stories have included the groundbreaking for a new historical center, ginormous pumpkins in Altoona and the planting of trees as part of a national project that will also allow middle school students to get hands-on experience with research.
We’ve told you about changes coming to this year’s Halloween festivities, about Milan “Shorty” Mueller ending his 65-year run as a barber for Eau Claire. We have written, and editorialized, on the state’s shortchanging of Eau Claire and other cities with funds meant to reimburse cities for services provided to state-owned facilities.
Students learning about car maintenance and restoration are working on a classic Mustang and the Altoona schools won recognition for their work closing achievement gaps. Eau Claire schools saw a surplus after classes abruptly ended last spring. We told you about that, too.
On Friday, we put a spotlight on a different health crisis. Opioid addiction hasn’t gone away during the pandemic. If anything, the stress and restrictions have made recovery harder than ever. It’s something that has gone largely under the radar for the past several months and it was worth a reminder.
Those stories are just in the past week and they don’t include every local story we’ve written. They don’t include the games we’ve covered or the athletes we’ve profiled. They don’t include the letters you’ve written or the Sawdust Stories you love.
This wasn’t an unusual week, either. This is what we do, week in and week out. People complain that there’s nothing in the paper? Please.
The Leader-Telegram’s newsroom has a range of experiences, but every single person is dedicated to doing this job as well as we can. We’re in this profession, one that guarantees public attacks against us and our efforts, because journalism is a responsibility we love. We’re here because this is where we want to be and your stories are the ones we want to tell.
There isn’t a person in our newsroom who doesn’t know what it feels like to write a story on deadline with an editor breathing down the back of their neck asking when it’s going to be ready. The taste of cold pizza provokes an adrenaline response honed over years of late night election coverage. But that’s what we chose, and most of us wouldn’t be all that happy doing anything else.
In that, we’re not all that different from any of the local newspapers across our country. For every New York Times or Washington Post, there are several dozen local papers telling local stories. Heck, there are probably a score for every regional paper like the Star Tribune.
We go to meetings so you don’t have to. We sit through endless hearings and debates, pore over budgets and spreadsheets. We file freedom of information requests for documents to find out what people in office were doing and when.
We’re far from perfect, as some are quick to remind us. There are always areas in which we can improve and we strive to do so. When we make a mistake, we run a correction. When’s the last time you heard of a news outlet other than a newspaper doing that?
We need your help to do it. We rely on your tips, your letters and your calls to help us stay on top of what’s happening. We rely on your critiques to let us know when we need to do a better job. And we rely on your subscriptions to stay in business.
This is a tough time for newspapers. But we’re not giving up. We’re not giving in.
This is who we are.