Who we are: Lessons for 2016

As we continue into our 137th year of production, wanted to share ten reminders of who we are as a newspaper and our continued mission for the new year:

* Our sole purpose is to serve you – the reader. Our job as a newspaper is to educate, entertain and inform the community/our readers of what is going on in the community, state or world.

* We want to see Galion and Crawford County succeed, but our role is make sure it’s done appropriately. For example, we’re encouraged by the positive steps the city has taken for economic development, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to critically evaluate each step of the way. That’s what journalists should do.

* We’ve heard disappointment from some recently that negative reader comments on web sites or stories which express concern about projects would scare new business away. Our role isn’t to write promotional copy for the county, our role is to cover what’s happening here, be it positive or negative.

* We represent what you think. Although we get disappointed about the negative tone that seems to show itself in Crawford County, our job is to share what people are saying in the region. We don’t encourage negative remarks, but we have a responsibility of sharing what people are thinking. This is for all people, from quoting Council members who vote against ordinances to sharing comments from people who question the direction of local leaders. To not allow for this is not permitting freedom of speech.

* We don’t refuse to quote certain people. We’ve been in the middle of a conflict between opponents of city government and city officials. In the conflict, we’ve received calls from both sides asking why we would cover certain events or allow comment from certain people. We’ve been called everything from being employees of the city to being at the whim of people who oppose city officials. We’re neither. To be honest, we’re sad for the city since these discussions have gotten so personal. From opponents of the city to city officials eager to fire back, we believe the result of these debates have done nothing to help Galion and both sides should be ashamed.

* When it comes to negative comments, we propose the “Frozen” doctrine. Let it go. Anytime that someone is in leadership, some people will love you and some will hate you. A study has shown that many organizations have 10 percent fans, 10 percent enemies and 80 percent of undecideds. The study concludes that organizations should spend the most time reaching the 80 percent.

* We’re not looking to pick fights with any city government or organization. Throughout our history and even today, we’ve been accused of having a vendetta against certain leaders or groups. That’s not our goal or mission. We’re not interested in engaging in wars of words. Our mission is to serve our readership.

* When we call people or sit down with people for interviews, when we email people questions for a story or if we hear discussions during a public meeting, we use these comments for stories. When we call, visit or attend public meetings, we are reporters and editors and we write what we hear. Recently, we’ve had several examples of people who after an interview or discussion during a public meeting ask us to hold certain things from the newspaper. It doesn’t work that way. Interview subjects need to first ask “Can I tell you something off the record” and get agreement before moving forward.

* We don’t take requests for when news should be in the paper. On several stories recently, we’ve received independent confirmation from a variety of sources and another will call and ask if we can hold stories until “people are ready.” We can’t do that.

* We’re continuing to investigate our comment system in our web site. We encourage a healthy discussion on both sides of the issue. We can’t mandate the use of real names, but we want to remind our readers that using real names lend more credibility to the discussion. We won’t moderate negative comments, but will moderate the use of personal attacks. In the meantime, we encourage readers who have issues with particular comments to use the report abuse button on the web site and emailing [email protected] for concerns comments left on our social media sites.

– Chris Pugh