I usually don’t put much stock in New Year’s resolutions. They tend to reflect what we realize we should have been doing all along, rather than what we think would be good things to do in the future. They put more pressure on already-pressured lives.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with good intentions (unless they are not followed through on), and goals are good. So with that in mind, I offer a few New Year’s resolutions for the Methow Valley News.
As I noted last week, we are determined to select a new Mazama columnist for the Valley Life page. We’ve been dealing with a variety of in-the-moment challenges the past few months, and so whatever was not an immediate crisis got triaged and thus delayed. We will get the new year off to a good start with a new voice for the far end of the valley.
One of the nagging issues we have been contending with altogether too often is that some subscribers — here and outside the valley — are occasionally (or more often) not getting their newspapers delivered by mail.
It’s a teeth-gnashing aggravation because it’s so hard to figure out what the problem is. It could be that subscriptions have expired and the notice cards we sent out were overlooked. Or forwarding addresses don’t work like they should. We can usually take care of that expeditiously.
More puzzling is how our local mailings go haywire. Each week, we provided an updated subscriber list to the Wenatchee World, where the Methow Valley News is printed. That list is used to generate the ink-jet addresses on the mailed newspapers.
We have almost no control over what happens to the newspapers after they leave the Wenatchee World printing plant, either by mail or in the delivery truck that brings bundles to our pick-up point in Pateros. Our driver loads the local newspaper bundles and brings them to valley, where he takes them to the appropriate post offices or drops them at our retail outlets.
But “not our fault” is hardly a satisfactory answer for most subscribers who want their newspaper and not excuses. We make a note of every missed newspaper that is reported to us and do some sleuthing to see if we can figure out what happened. Too often, “we don’t know” is the frustrating answer.
It’s not my intent to point fingers or lay blame, but clearly something is happening along the way to cause problems. So we are going to drill down through the entire process and see where the potential problems are, then figure out how to deal with them.
It’s gratifying that people want the newspaper and care about it enough to call, even if our response isn’t entirely satisfactory. We offer to mail copies directly from the office or provide a free copy if you drop by. We’ve even been known to hand-deliver them when that’s convenient.
I also hope to do a better job of explaining what’s going on in the paper’s content. It’s not uncommon for people to tell me what they miss in the newspaper — things that used to regularly appear but have either been eliminated or become less frequent. I understand that. I also would point out that the paper doesn’t look like it did in 1903, or 1923, or 1953 or 1973 or even 2003. It’s a constantly evolving product.
Other folks have told me they miss the feature summarizing the previous week’s weather. I’ve never understood that — most of us were here, and know what the weather was.
Another feature that has become irregular is the police blotter, which has always been popular reading. Nothing mysterious about its irregularity — lack of time and limited space in the paper often constrain us from tracking down the information. And, I have an entirely different attitude — based on decades of police reporting — about the blotter being something amusing. People calling 911 are not doing it to be funny — they are in trouble, or trying to help someone in trouble, or letting first responders know about a problem. I don’t see the point in making them the butt of humor. When you call 911, I don’t think you are expecting to be a comedian or be made fun of. Hopefully, you’ll see more of the “just the facts, ma’am” version of the blotter in 2018.
And as always, we will strive to do more of the same, and better, to make the News both valuable and a good read.