A few days ago I brought home copies all of the newspapers we produced in 2019, to revisit them in preparing for this annual Year in Review issue. All of the weekly papers — I estimate between 700 and 800 pages total — fit in a smallish, easily carried box. When compiled in a bound volume, they will be even more compact.
And I thought, “well, there it is, a year’s worth of hard work” — thousands of hours of reporting, writing, editing, proofreading and photography, design and production, ad sales, office administration, customer service, distribution and other sundry activities required to make a newspaper every week and ensure that it gets to you in the mail or at a newsstand.
It amounted to a small pile of newsprint, no bigger than the bundles we drop off at our retail sales outlets, which doesn’t seem like much for all that effort.
Until you start reading.
When I did, beginning with January 2019, I was again amazed at how much information we leverage into the paper each week, from the smallest one-line notices to various brief items to major news stories and features, as well as cartoons, letters to the editor, opinion pieces and more. I think of each one, including photos, as “entry points” to the newspaper — places where you can engage and, we hope, learn something. There are dozens every week, and each one has an audience. That’s why I try to practice the “degree of care” attitude toward all of our content — big or small, every item deserves the same kind of professional attention. It pains me as much to have a mistake in a What’s Happening calendar item as it does in a page A1 story.
The Year in Review issue, of course, focuses on the high points of the past 12 months, things that we believe had a broad, significant impact on the greater Methow Valley community. The Top 10 New Stories article is based on a poll of readers, who were asked to make their choices from a list of two dozen events or issues that stood out in the past year.
Looking back over 2019, I was reminded that while those major news stories are important and we are compelled to report them aggressively, they don’t exclusively represent what people might be interested in — such as what their neighbors are accomplishing, what students are doing in the schools, which businesses are opening, closing, moving or expanding, what local entertainment and educational opportunities are available, how to better themselves, how to find a job, where to buy or sell something, how to participate, what their fellow citizens are thinking.
And let me remind you, these are all initially “news” to me as well — I learn something every week about what distinguishes this place from others. We don’t know everything that’s going on in the community by osmosis — we learn it from you, or we try to find out what we think you’d like to know.
Looking at our collection of bound volumes going back more than 115 years, I’m struck by how many “entry points” they represent in the aggregate, and how many of the big headline stories continue to resonate through the decades. Each year when we compile our list of top stories, several are repeaters from previous years. Others are momentarily noteworthy and then fade. We encourage you to not only look at this issue as a panorama of 2019, but also as part of the Methow Valley continuum. And we hope, at the end of another year, you think that that small pile of newsprint amounts to something after all.