I've never been big on making New Year's resolutions.
First, they're almost always focused on some really bad habit or behavior. Second, all too often they're too extreme, pleasing to the ear but highly impractical. And third, even when they're admirable and achievable, more often than not they're abandoned almost as quickly as they were made.
This year, though, I've decided to make a list of resolutions — not for me, but for this news organization of which I've been privileged to be a part for nearly 40 years.
They're resolutions — actually, pledges — I'm making to you on behalf of the men and women who work with me. Most are things we've been doing for some time now, and in some cases for the nearly 80 years we've been The Modesto Bee.
In that sense, they're recommitments.
So, here are 10 things we will strive to do for you in 2010:
1 Provide quality public-service journalism — news and information that is relevant, reliable, timely and useful, and that can help you make decisions in your personal life and as you participate in civic life.
2 Focus most of our energy and effort on what is most important to you — news of your community and region. Local news is our franchise; it is what we do best, and is the one thing we can give you that you can't generally get anywhere else.
3 Identify and consistently cover the most critical issues facing our region and our readers — from the economy to education to health care to personal safety to the water crisis to the need for strong, visionary leadership.
4 Capture the life of our community — accurately recording and reflecting the good as well as the bad, the hopes as well as the heartbreaks, the successes as well as the failures, the strengths as well as the weaknesses.
5 Act as your watchdog — monitoring public agencies and officials, and aggressively fighting for the public's right to know, using any and all means necessary to ensure openness and transparency in government.
6 Be a leader in setting the agenda — using fact-based editorial opinion and commentary to identify problems and solutions, to give a voice to the voiceless, comfort the afflicted and, when necessary, afflict the comfortable.
7 Provide a forum for public discussion — creating a rich marketplace of ideas on our Opinions pages, from the far right to the far left and everything in between. And doing everything we can, in print and online, to keep the dialogue civil and constructive.
8 Deliver news, information and advertising in new and exciting ways — continuing to produce a quality printed newspaper, but expanding our new-media platforms to give you more ways to get what you need when, where and how you want it.
9 Communicate more consistently with you — opening ourselves up to you, seeking your feedback, listening and responding to your comments, concerns and criticisms.
10 Hold ourselves accountable in all we do — to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy, fairness, impartiality and independence, and to the highest civilized standards of character, honesty, integrity and respect.
We don't make these pledges lightly. We feel proud and privileged to be the pre-eminent source of local news and information for the communities we serve, and we take very seriously the role and responsibility you have entrusted to us.
On behalf of the men and women who work with me at 14th and H streets in downtown Modesto, thank you for having read The Bee and modbee.com in 2009.
On behalf of them, thank you also for choosing to spend a part of this first day of 2010 with us.
And on behalf of them, please accept my warm wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.
Mark S. Vasché, The Bee's editor and senior vice president, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2356.