Question of geography in a year of change
Editor’s note: Mike Bennett will reflect about his first year as publisher of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent during the next couple of weeks.By Mike BennettPost Independent PublisherGood newspapers should accurately and thoroughly reflect the communities they serve.When I came to town in January, I made certain assumptions about our newspaper and the communities it serves. During the past year through surveys, focus groups, coffee talks and other meetings, we discovered that Garfield County is large and diverse.That came as no surprise, but what people told us did.Some readers in Glenwood Springs viewed us as the newspaper with a primary responsibility to cover only Glenwood Springs. Some readers outside of the city viewed us as a newspaper in Glenwood Springs that should cover the entire county but tended to neglect readers outside Glenwood Springs.We view ourselves as the newspaper of record for Garfield County. If you want to know what is going on in the county, you can rely on the Post Independent to find out. Although we will provide broader coverage of the county, we will still have a little more emphasis on Glenwood Springs. Both Rifle and Carbondale have their own weekly newspapers. You will always find more in-depth coverage of those areas in The Citizen Telegram and the Valley Journal.During the course of the year, managing editor Tom Martinez and his staff have worked hard to increase both the quality and quantity of stories in your newspaper. As the year has progressed, we’ve started to hear rumbling from a few Glenwood Springs readers that they are feeling neglected. Their perception is that they are seeing more coverage of other cities at Glenwood’s expense.We wanted to see what the numbers told us. Beginning in November, we started counting byline stories our staff produced, comparing the numbers to last November. The results came out better than we expected. This year we wrote 253 stories compared to just 124 last year. On average, we ran almost 10 locally produced stories every day compared to just five stories on average last November.Coverage of Glenwood Springs increased from 57 stories last year to 75 this year. Our Garfield County story count came in at 98 verses just 31 last year. This number was higher than normal because of important election, county commissioner and natural gas stories.Our numbers nearly doubled for a couple of reasons.For starters, we invested in our newsroom, adding a couple of positions in the newsroom. The Rifle Citizen Telegram also now serves as our western Garfield County news bureau. Come the first of the year, we are adding a third full-time editorial position in Rifle to increase our news from the western end of the county.The other key reason for our growth is the higher expectations and demands that we put on ourselves. Newspaper industry standards tell us that a reporter should average about 10 stories a week. Our reporters used to average about seven stories a week. We aren’t averaging 10 yet, but it is our goal.We can’t discount veteran staffers Dennis Webb and Donna Gray, who both came back in the fold as reporters. They have been an invaluable addition to our reporting staff.We realize that it is impossible to make every reader happy about every story we print. On the other hand we must try to meet the local news expectations of all of our readership in every issue. If we are successful, there will be at least one story in every issue that will bring value to your life. Stay in touch and let me know how we are doing.Mike Bennett can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by mail at 2014 Grand Ave. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 or by telephone at 945-8515 ext. 400.Mike Bennett can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com, by mail at 2014 Grand Ave. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 or by telephone at 945-8515 ext. 400.
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