Don Rogers: New Sun rising
March 2, 2018
Well, what do you think? It's early, the first Truckee Sun, so this may not be a fair question.
I'm writing before this edition has been laid out, even before I've wandered over to the newsroom to ask specifically what's in it.
"What's in it for me?" That's what I want to know if I'm picking up a copy in Truckee, at one of the ski resorts, a grocery store, breakfast place, brewery, box in Tahoe City.
Here, we're a generous people. We care about others, want the best for our neighbors, give to causes, are keen to protect our environment from overdevelopment, have cause to be really, really concerned about global warming.
But at our core, it's about us. We're born alone and so we each shall die, right? The flight attendant's instructions for the oxygen mask have become a self-help trope: Take care of yourself first, so you may help others, including your own precious children.
For something as flimsy as a newspaper, as ethereal as a website, we need good answers to "What's in it for me?"
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I want our journalists to cover issues from the vantage of readers trying to understand what local issues and events mean to them, why they should care, and what's next.
What's in it for me, the local, the second-home owner, the visitor?
That's my test as publisher, a career as one of those journalists, and yeah, a reader myself.
Is the Sun helping you make sense of our part of the world, covering what you are looking for from us, being fair-minded, including fun in these pages as well as more serious fare? Are the stories full of life about people and what's at stake for them, or reporting in some droning stenographic, officialese summation? That's certainly the easier way.
It's a high bar for what I take as a holy calling.
Nothing is more important to daily life in and around Truckee than what happens here. That's what I believe anyway, and all the more so witnessing the dopamine-cortisol addictions driving Fox and CNN. The Batman-like crusades of the most elite liberal news outlets. The inherent fakery and cynicism driving the politicians and sycophants who squeal "fake news!" at every report they don't like. The sad turn to propaganda among the "conservative" media. I put quote marks around conservative because there remains a principled political philosophy of that name with adherents as appalled at the Trump turn as any Democrat.
But all that has little to do with this week's snow, which delivered Northstar enough skiers Tuesday to fill the parking lots down to the highway and I'm sure the same for Squaw. Now that's news around here, especially this winter.
Most basically, I want the Sun to break the news online and take advantage of the tools there — to-the-minute posting, video, audio, live stream, daily email newsletter, prompt updates on the social streams as well as the website.
And then focus on explanatory stories in the weekly print paper, along with previews of events, stories and photos you submit about life here, getting to the best of community journalism with lots of public participation along with wise, comprehensive coverage in the vein of Time, Sports Illustrated, The Economist.
That's my ideal, and I think the news staff has been on this path for awhile already. As with all human endeavors, we'll have days and weeks we nail it, and then others when we run short of our potential, let's say. But we're aiming high over the long run, figuring out how to get better, more compelling week by week.
Meantime, we're discovering lots of moving parts in transforming from the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza with one staff and three editions to one Truckee Sun, with the Tahoe Tribune taking in the full lake under its umbrella.
Part of this involves the Sun uncoupling from one division of our larger company, Swift Communications, and joining Nevada County Publishing Co., based in Grass Valley.
Of course, most of these loose ends don't concern readers or advertisers, only the innumerable mechanics behind producing the Sun through one division vs. the other. And there are some advantages for you, such as a tighter connection in news coverage with Truckee's county seat in Nevada City and with Placer County's in Auburn, too.
I have my highfalutin' ideas about how great I want the Truckee Sun to be, but we've also been mindful we need to walk before running. This is a new baby in many ways, after all. I'm hoping you'll help teach us well. We have a lot to learn.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Truckee Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.