The Record-Courier is a community newspaper
March 27, 2007
I was sitting at the traffic light by Sharkey’s the other day, waiting my obligatory 10 minutes to turn from Gilman onto Main Street at 9 in the morning when it dawned on me.
If I set up a lawn chair at the intersection, I’d have a pretty good working model of what we do here at The R-C.
Essentially, we just watch y’all come and go.
It’s painfully simple, but that’s successful small-town newspapering at its most basic.
Don’t take me literally here, but some of you navigate traffic really well. We write about it.
Some of you get caught moving too fast, we write about it.
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Some are driving new cars, some are headed to all corners of the road map, and some are moving so slow everyone else just honks and hollers until they get going and we don’t hesitate to write any of that either.
Sometimes the state drops a big old roundabout right in the middle of it all, and you all know we write about that.
Essentially, our business is to make sure we keep you informed of everything you got a glimpse of while moving about during the day. As an added bonus, we even try to keep you posted on the stuff you missed, but you get the idea.
Everything that’s important to you in our theoretical glass and steel driver’s cab bubble, becomes important to us.
Every couple of months, we get bombarded with memos and bulletins trumpeting the latest advances in our business.
The latest trends involve everything from reader-generated stories and photos to hyper-localization of national storylines.
National headlines have moved off the front page in favor of what’s going on right down the street and somewhere along the way, executives discovered that people would much rather see their children’s pictures, or even their neighbor’s, within the confines of newsprint than the celebrity of the day.
Some of the more forward-thinking publications have discovered that the ideal situation is to operate a newsroom much like you would a customer service desk, using an open-door policy and reader-first tactics to allow the average citizen to literally determine what the news is as opposed to an editor doing it for you.
Newspapers around the country are rewriting their job descriptions and juggling their organizational charts to reverse their gears and do what we’ve been doing for Douglas County since the Gardnerville Record and the Courier joined on April 8, 1904.
Local is the new national, and the fortunate thing for us is that it’s all we’ve ever done.
It’s not that we had everyone else beat to the punch, it’s just that for the last 100-plus years, we haven’t had anything better to do than to cover Douglas County. And we’re not going to find anything better to do in the next 100 years either.
This Valley is the most important thing to our livelihood and you can bet we are going to treat it as such.
We symbolically leave the woodcut of the Sierra range in our banner, because those mountains are pretty much the only unchanging things about this community.
Call it the heart of Carson Valley if you will.
For all of our changes as a paper through the years, we leave those mountains above our fold to remind you that the very heart of what we do isn’t going to change either.
One former editor here said that The R-C is just a “long letter home, telling folks about everything that is going on.”
With all the terms like “citizen participation,” “information centers,” and “mobile journalists” being thrown around, we believe we have had the most important idea pretty well nailed for the last century – Community journalism.
If you wanted, you could drop the second word from the phrase and still be as effective in describing what we do.
When it comes down to it, we are your community. Or at least a direct reflection of it.
We went to school with the Gardners, knew the Dangbergs, the Oxobys and the Chichesters, lived in the Ranchos and still operate at nights out of Genoa.
We’ve been with you through floods, earthquakes and elevators that could take a man up to space.
We’ve cried with you through funerals, fires and freak snow storms before championship football games.
We’ve celebrated with you through your weddings, prize catches, grand openings and even trips to the inaugural presidential parades.
It’s rumored that we bleed orange and black, but there’s no question that we can locate Gasoline Alley for you and there’s not one of us that doesn’t keep an eye on Shawn Estes heading into each spring.
Heck, we even revert to the laws of European traffic on the 100 square feet of pavement separating Jack in the Box and Taco Bell. And before this weekend is up, we’ll see most of you in line at the grocery store.
Community journalism is not something you can just parachute into town with and expect to fit seamlessly.
It’s earned. It’s established. It’s that conversation that begins, “Did you hear about … ?”
It’s part of the very fabric of what we all love about Carson Valley.
We’ve spent the last century making sure you know that when your light turns green, we’re ready to watch you go.
Our doors are open. Feel free to drop on by.
— Joey Crandall is a Gardnerville native and sports editor of The Record-Courier.