When I made the decision to move back to Tucson and become editor of Tucson Local Media, one of my primary reasons was because I love community newspapers.
I spent most of my career working at community papers and enjoyed the slightly slower pace of life and the opportunity to actually get to know the community.
As I advanced in my career, working at bigger papers along the way, that disappeared. There was too much work, too much time in the office to really get to know the communities I called home.
So moving back to Tucson was almost returning to my roots. The newspaper industry is facing challenges many never imagined. It is becoming more difficult every day for papers to remain relevant, to make money and to keep the doors open.
Just to survive some papers have taken drastic steps. In Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen, the papers I grew up reading, went from competitor to partner overnight because they knew two large papers could not survive.
The Chicago Sun Times laid off every photographer it had, letting Pulitzer Prize winners go to save money. And even with the cuts, things are tough.
The one exception is community papers. If you live in Oro Valley and you get the Explorer delivered every week, it has relevance because it talks about your home. If you live in Marana, we hope the story is the same when the Marana News shows up.
From my point of view, a community newspaper has three jobs. No. 1, we report the news people need to know. That is why we spend a considerable amount of time and effort covering local government.
No. 2, we report news people want to know. That’s why we report heavily on police and courts as well as sports. People in every community are interested in what the police are doing, who got arrested and how their local high school is doing. It’s the same across the nation.
No. 3 is where community papers stand out. We do our best to tell you what your friends and neighbors are doing. We look for feature stories, photos of kids playing and anything that will give readers a look into the world around them. People are naturally curious about others in the their community and are happy to see a photo or story about someone they know.
In an effort to improve that third job, I’m going to ask for your help. In the coming weeks, we are hoping to start a weekly page full of photos of local people. From my view, there really is no limit to what the photos can be about.
If you have a family member celebrating a birthday, we’d love to run a picture. If you have someone you know getting married, celebrating an anniversary, going on vacation, running their first marathon, pretty much anything, we would like to have a photo sent to us.
If you are a member of a service club and someone is getting honored for their service or you have a special guest speaker, take a photo and send it to me. We would love to run it. If your business is honoring an employee or hosting a special event, send some pictures in. We will let the whole community know.
It’s really that easy. So flood my inbox this week and weeks to come. Send your photos with a brief description including the names of those in the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll take it from there.