Before I purchased the Methow Valley News in 2011, I thought a lot about what that would mean. I came up with a mission statement and vision statement that I intended to guide the newspaper’s operations and establish its commitment to this community. I reprint these statements every year to remind myself, my staff, our readers and our advertisers of these fundamental principles.
Usually, I reproduce them on the anniversary of my taking over the paper, July 4. But that date shot right by this year, so I’m a little late. Also, I’m a bit under the weather this week so don’t have my usual energy or attitude for this space. So here they are again.
MVN Publishing will produce high-quality, reliable and practical print and online news and information products, including the Methow Valley News, related special publications and www.methowvalleynews.com, to fully inform not only valley residents but also readers and online users outside the area who have an interest the valley’s success 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.
It’s always good for me to review these words written so many years ago, full of intention and hope. I think we have, for the most part, lived up to our stated expectations, despite challenges along the way. And I think the statements hold up as a sort of “constitution” for our little rural newspaper with its big ambitions. It’s a solid foundation on which to continue improving.