Editor Ray Miller-Still

Editor Ray Miller-Still

Grab a brewski with your local newsies

Let’s get to know each other.

It’s no surprise to me — and probably no surprise to you, either — that trust in news media is low, and seems to be ever declining.

According to an August 2021 Pew Research Center report, overall trust (“a lot” or “some”) in national news organizations has dropped from 76 percent in 2016 to 58 percent this year.

That dip was fueled (again, unsurprisingly) by Republicans and right-leaning Independents, whose overall trust in national news tanked from 70 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2021.

Luckily, overall attitudes toward local news organizations have been somewhat insulated, dropping from 82 percent to just 75 percent (the slight falloff was largely due to the political right once more, where trust fell from 79 percent to 66 percent).

Still, given the fact that the Plateau is staunchly red in its politics, it makes me wonder — how much does the local community trust the Courier-Herald?

And, more to the point, how can the Courier-Herald increase that trust?

Alex and I have been tossing around ideas for a while, but time after time, we came back to two things: accessibility and visibility.

Often, news is a one-way street: we report, and you consume. It’s only once in a blue moon do we receive a letter criticizing (or complimenting) our reporting, and even then, that limited interaction is through email (which I would argue is only the third best way to have a conversation, behind having a phone conversation and meeting face-to-face, but far ahead of social media).

This approach to news makes a lot of sense for national media — the speed of the news cycle and the daily deadlines makes it impossible for those reporters to slow down and actually speak with their viewers and readers.

But for local news outlets, especially a weekly like us, that’s a poor approach. We should be working to connect with our readers on a more personal level, answering your questions and addressing your concerns in real time.

So with that in mind, Alex and I would like to invite you to the first of what we hope to be an ongoing series of monthly meetings where you can get to know us — and more importantly, for us to get to know you.

The meetings will be the first Wednesday of every month, from 5 to 6 p.m., at the Cole Street Brewery* (1627 Cole St), which, coincidentally, was our former office space.

We’re starting in January as a way for the newspaper to ring in the new year, so the first meeting will be Jan. 5, 2022.

While we both are hoping to be able to address a wide range of topics, there are a few guidelines we want to make clear.

Story ideas: We are really hoping some of you will meet with us to pitch articles; after all, if we don’t know what’s happening in the community, we can’t cover it. That said, this is an informal get-together, and we will not be prepared to conduct interviews, though we will gladly schedule one with you in the near future.

Fact checking: Did we get something wrong? Was something out of context in a story? Did we miss an angle we should have considered? We want to know — it’s the best way for us to improve our craft. In these instances, we would highly appreciate specific examples where our facts were incorrect so we can go back and correct our work.

Politics: We certainly expect some people would like to discuss politics, from city business to national affairs. We would enjoy hearing your opinions, and in some instances, might even provide our own (if asked). However, we will not engage in political debate — again, we’re aiming for an informal session where thoughts and ideas are exchanged, not argued.

Columnists: While our columnists are more than welcome to join us during these sessions, there’s no guarantee they will attend. If you’d like to get a hold of one of them, we are more than happy to take down your contact information and pass it along (it’s Courier-Herald policy to not give out contact information of private citizens, and our columnists are not employees of the paper).

Beverages: Please, drink responsibly; if you appear intoxicated, we will request you disengage.

Circulation: Unfortunately, we can’t address any issues concerning circulation. If you’re having trouble receiving the paper, we encourage you to email our circulation department at circulation@soundpublishing.com, or call them at 888-838-3000.

Advertising: Like with circulation, we will be unable to help you buy, or address your concerns with, advertisements. Please contact Jennifer Tribbett (jtribbett@courierherald.com) or Tamie Beitinger (tamie.beitinger@courierherald.com) for ads.

The Courier-Herald has served the Plateau community for more than 100 years, and it’s our goal to lay the groundwork for 100 more. I hope you will join us in that endeavor, and help us build a true community paper.

•••

*I am aware that holding these events at Cole Street Brewery puts the Courier-Herald in the middle of vaccine politics, as the venue is voluntarily complying with current mandates. At this time, more “neutral” venues are unavailable to us; the library’s community rooms are closed to the public, and the Courier-Herald’s office is ill-equipped for this new program. Also, I like Cole Street, and I want to support a local business with this venture. It is not my intention to exclude the medically-fragile or those that do not feel comfortable entering indoor spaces at this time. Similarly, we don’t want to shut out those that disagree with the vaccine verification mandates. In that light, I will continue to seek out additional options as the pandemic and mandates continues, but finding a “perfect balance” (if such a creature exists) will take time. Meanwhile, Cole Street is more than willing to accept and accomodate those with underlying conditions, and if you are still uncomfortable, I am more than happy to utilize their outside seating to chat. I am also free to meet outside the hours of these get-togethers — just give me a call or email, and I’ll make myself available to you.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

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