I'm gonna blow our own horn.
Our mission is simple. We will invigorate our brand and its relevancy in the community. We don't just cover this community, we are about making a difference. So no matter where you're reading us -- in print, online or in the palm of your hand -- it's about insight, knowledge and perspective on the things that matter to us all.
We have a great story to tell -- all of us -- and we intend to share the stories that shape our past, present and our future. It is the only story where we are all main characters. It's more than just news.
Dang! Wish I'd written that. Instead, Pam Siddall, publisher of the Birmingham News in Alabama, wrote it. (I did write the first sentence.) She's kicking off a campaign to declare her news company's commitment to and engagement with its community.
And, in light of some recent news about the Sun-Star, I wanted to do the same.
You read that we're moving our printing operations to The Fresno Bee. You read that our parent, McClatchy Co., lost $2 million in the first quarter. You may have read that industrywide, the newspaper business is posting weaker revenues and lower earnings because of soft advertising, lower circulation and higher newsprint prices.
But thanks to Pam, a trip this week to my old teaching grounds, Cal State Fullerton (where I talked to about 400 students from five classes), and a trip to Oakhurst's Willow Bridge Bookstore early this month (where I talked to some salt-and-pepper-of-the-earth foothill folks), I feel about as good as any editor can legally feel nowadays.
At each place I had to answer questions about the future of newspapers, especially by students wondering whether to enter the field. I told them all they were in the right business. I told the folks at Monica McClanahan's bookstore they'd be able to keep toting their newspaper to the bathroom for the foreseeable.
Huh? What am I smoking? What's in that drink?
I said I come by this feeling legally, and it's because I go to work every day at the Merced Sun-Star and hang out with our reporters, photographers, sport writers, other editors and the many hard-working advertising, production and circulation people in our building.
Even better, I get to click on our website and open our newspaper to see and read and hear the high-quality journalism we are producing for you, our audience, every day.
A reporter's job is to show, not tell, and as the Birmingham News' promotion puts it: "Before they blog it, tweet it, post it or share it, we report it."
So what have we done for you lately?
Well, let's look at this year and last.
Thanks to the Sun-Star, you learned about the emotional and psychological distress imposed on our residents by the foreclosure crisis. That three-part series, "Houses of Blues," was more or less imitated nine months after we published ours by The Washington Post, in a November 2010 story headlined "Foreclosure takes toll on increasing number of children." We like to beat the big guys -- and you, our audience, benefited from our effort.
Our watchdog journalism led us to the comprehensive disclosure of the Firm Build case filed by the district attorney, charging three former key executives of the defunct nonprofit with knowingly exposing high school students to the cancer-causing agent asbestos.
We told you about Merced College administrators spending $15,000 on retreats to a casino and a winery -- and we let you make up your minds whether that was a useful way to spend the money.