I’m not sure anyone around here makes a cake big enough, but it would be fun to see if we could get 116 birthday candles flaming all at once (don’t ask me to blow them out, my high oxygen-capacity marathoning days are behind me). It’s not one of those noteworthy anniversaries that ends in a 0 or a 5, but today (May 8) marks the completion of 116 years in business for the Methow Valley News. Volume 117, Issue 1, launches us into another year and, hopefully, many more beyond that.
I think I’ve worn out all the old-age analogies in the past, so we’ll forego that this time. I am grateful that, when so many other newspapers around the country have disappeared or shrunk to shadows of their former selves, the News is still around and occasionally a little cantankerous.
We didn’t make it this far by standing still. Anyone who has spent time with our bound volumes of the newspaper, which go all the way back to 1903 and include Volume 1, Issue 1, knows how dramatically the News has changed over the years, in size, appearance and variety of content. But the reason for our existence has not wavered: to serve this distinct community with journalistic distinction.
We never lose sight of that, but every couple of years I feel compelled to revisit the mission statement and vision statement that I offered to our readers in 2011, when I purchased the paper. I do it to remind myself why I’m here, and to recommit our intentions to this community’s citizens and friends. Sort of like renewing marriage vows, without getting all dressed up (for the record, “We do”). So here they are again.
MVN Publications will be the predominant, must-read local source of high-quality, reliable and practical news and information products — including the Methow Valley News, related special publications and www.methowvalleynews.com — to fully and effectively inform not only Methow Valley residents but also readers and online users outside the area who have an interest in the valley’s lifestyle and well-being.
We will report on, participate in and celebrate the unique community of the Methow Valley with accuracy, integrity and civility, and be as transparent as possible about our operations and how we report the news.
We will consistently provide high-quality, locally intensive journalism that serves the community by effectively telling the valley’s stories; building connections that help the valley’s residents make decisions about living, working, recreating and participating here; fostering involved citizenship that encourages a meaningful, productive civic life; and celebrating what is good and promising about the Methow Valley’s people, its environment and its future.
We will use all available means to meet the valley’s information needs, including social networking tools to keep people stay current day in and day out.
We will vigorously support and educate residents about open meetings and public access laws.
We will be a force for effective communications that make a difference in the community’s well-being.
We will define “local” not by geography but by what is important in residents’ lives and by exploring how those issues and events affect them.
When appropriate, we will use the long-form narrative story-telling approach for issues, profiles and community character articles.
We will reach beyond the valley with the power of what we do by setting standards for rural community journalism and being part of the redefinition of what it means to practice responsible journalism in this kind of setting.
We will be a responsible employer and will operate a successful business that helps provide livelihoods for local residents by being innovative and flexible to create opportunities for growth.
We will lay a long-lasting foundation for local journalism in the valley.
We will become participants in, not just observers of, the greater community and its various interests and forces for change.
Yeah, it sounds a little formal and fancy, I suppose, and could stand some tweaking. (I’ve been accused of being a little too loose with adverbs and adjectives.) But I’ve decided not to mess with it because that’s what I said at the time, and I’ll stand by it. I’d like to think that Harry Marble had similar sentiments in mind when he launched the Methow Valley News all those decades ago. Honoring that legacy is a huge motivator for me. We mark our progress one year at a time, but our vision is limitless. That I still enjoy doing this is, you could say, icing on the cake.