My first editorial of 2017, which appeared in our Jan. 4 issue of Siuslaw News, was inspired by an unanticipated trip through our local history while sorting through old newspapers — and an opportunity to underscore the importance of trust and integrity in journalism…
January 4, 2017
I spent part of my New Year’s weekend here in the newsroom, tackling a re-organization project of files and materials that have been staring at me for nearly a decade — the gaze of which grew stronger after becoming editor in September.
The project entailed sifting through boxes of old newspaper issues, special publications, documents, journalistic guidelines and historic reference materials that had been collecting along a wall of shelves in our newsroom since the late 1990s.
With 2017 looming, it seemed like the perfect time to sort through the past in order to benefit our newsroom’s future. Coincidentally, it also got me out of washing the dog, but you didn’t read that here.
Over the course of a few hours, I time-traveled through about 50 years of local history captured in aged clippings, folded newspaper pages, pamphlets and long-defunct smaller community publications like “The Fog Dog” and “Beachcomber,” all of which played a role in chronicling our area’s colorful past.
They are things you’ll never find with a Google search. They exist now only in the memories of those who wrote the stories, lived the experience or, in this case, remain preserved in the archives of a small newsroom.
I have to admit, I came into the New Year without any concrete resolutions aside from the usual — and ongoing — intentions of eating healthier, exercising more and procrastinating less (something I keep putting off).
However, my trip through the past served to reinforce the unique responsibility and privilege we have, as a newspaper, to be the keepers of the past, chroniclers of the present and conversation for the future — all while serving as a reflection of our community’s hopes, challenges and particular moment in time.
That being said, I’m not making a resolution as much as offering you my resolve, as editor, to continue striving for your trust and partnership on these pages each week.
“Integrity” is a term that has come into question within the realm of journalism far too often in recent years, particularly at the national level where the need to be first is sometimes more important than the responsibility of being factual. And while we aren’t perfect, we certainly try — even if it means holding a breaking news story to make sure the information is complete and not open to speculation or assumption.
As we head into 2017, I look forward to the conversations we’ll have together on the phone, through emails, visits here in my office or while waiting in the grocery line. It’s these conversations that build the trust and partnership I spoke about earlier, and the integrity I hope you will feel is reflected on these pages with each issue.
My hope is that some day, when another Siuslaw News editor is reading and organizing the archives of our history, like me they will be moved by the same sense of responsibility and privilege that now rests easily in that series of boxes along the shelves in our newsroom.
Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and editor of Siuslaw News. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org