I’ve spent a lot of time with 2017 during the past week, and I gotta tell you — I’m ready to move on.
In anticipation of putting together our Year in Review issue, I’ve been poring through the past 52 issues page by page, looking for stories and photos and other content that would be considered representative of 2017.
It’s a lot to absorb and relive, especially when condensed into a few days rather than experienced over 12 months. It’s like opening a time capsule that was only sealed moments ago. Many of the stories seemed just as vivid to me as when they were published.
As always I am — with appropriate modesty — impressed with how much work we put into the paper, from major stories to brief items to “What’s Happening” calendar listings. It amounts to tens of thousands of individual bits or chunks for information, I would think, and every one of them went through a human processing system.
Inevitably, being human, we make mistakes — some in large, complicated stories, others in a small corner of the newspaper. I’ve never seen an error-free publication. Or an error-free person, for that matter. I hate corrections. They make me cranky and I lose sleep over them. When we say “the News regrets the error,” you have no idea how deep that regret goes. Some of you are more forgiving than others, and I understand that because usually it’s an item that is especially important to you that we got wrong. I’d like to say we will get it perfectly right, every word, every line, every page, every week, but could never guarantee that.
The Methow Valley News covered a lot of territory in 2017. If you read our Year in Review stories, you’ll see what I mean. Most of the major stories are on some kind of continuum, meaning they are not entirely resolved or other developments likely are coming. We’ll do our best to stay on top of them.
We also like to write about the valley’s personalities, the people who make this place special. The timeless adage is that names and faces make news, and we adhere to it.
We can’t and don’t get to everything. Believe me, I’m well aware of what we missed covering or could be covering right now. Limited resources — time, space, money — and a hierarchy of priorities require us to make tough choices, sometimes instantaneously.
I have my own list of topics I want to get to, and the other reporters and columnists do as well. There are some “things” going on, or rumored to be going on, that we know of but haven’t had the chance to verify yet. We don’t publish anything we can’t independently verify or cite a reliable source for. We’re not fake news. We care about our credibility more than anything else. It’s our most important asset. Our columnists, who have their own relationships with their communities, get a tiny bit of little leeway — but not much.
None of what we do week in and week out could happen without the community’s cooperation and contributions, and for that we are grateful beyond expression. We get our information and inspiration from you, and you are generous with both.
Every newspaper is a partnership of news and advertising content. No small-town newspaper could survive in any practical form without the support of its local advertisers. We want them to feel like they are associated with a worthy product that people will want to read, advertising included.
A year from now, I suspect I’ll have just completed the 2018 Year in Review process, with a similar sense of retrospection and relief. I don’t know what to expect from now until then, and am loath to make predictions. Surprises and unexpected events keep us engaged journalistically. Times may change, but our mission — established by Methow Valley News founder Harry Marble in 1903 — does not.
Happy New Year — now, let’s see what it brings.