Entering Year 3, what’s next for Salisbury Independent?

This week the Salisbury Independent marks another milestone. The front-page folio identifies this issue as “Vol. 3, No. 1.” In other words, the Independent embarks on its third year today.

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That we’ve arrived at this point is, in the views of some, a genuine miracle. Certainly, in general terms, everyone knows the newspaper business is in trouble. In fact, a would-be client recently observed that the only reason he hadn’t advertised with us is because he didn’t believe the paper would last this long. Yet, in seeming defiance of the odds, here we are.

Why has this happened?

Undeniably, one reason for the paper’s success are our extremely dedicated, often weary staff members, all of whom go beyond the call of duty every single week. Greg Bassett, Susan Canfora, and Cathy Koyanagi are like the Three Musketeers. Recently, to help us grow even more, we added to this merry band a “fourth” Musketeer, Greg Ardis.

A full-compliment of knowledgeable people who are all completely committed to publishing a world-class community newspaper is undoubtedly indispensable, but by my rough count, there are at a minimum another 35,000 reasons for the success of the Independent. That is to say, each reader who does us the honor of opening the paper every week has a profound effect on our success.

Put another way, our ultimate success depends entirely on you, our readers. During the last two years, we have worked hard to establish a true rapport with you and to connect to our community. You have welcomed us with open arms. This has been a remarkably humbling experience for all of us.

So today, thanks to you, we begin our third year.

The brevity of “Vol. 3, No. 1” communicates, in the rather archaic language of printing, a solemn, mysterious significance – not unlike the feeling you get when the odometer in an old, reliable car rolls over to reach 100,000 miles.

In and of itself, the exact distance is far less noteworthy than recalling the experiences and adventures you had along the way. But even while recollecting where you’ve been, everyone knows you can’t watch exclusively in the rearview mirror. If you are going to reach your next destination it is much more important to keep both eyes on the road ahead.

What, then, lies ahead for the Independent?

First and foremost, nurturing our relationship with you, our readers, and helping to build a better community remains our singular focus.

To do this, we recommit to doubling down on the journalistic and ethical values we hold most dear. You will find these values summarized in our pledge to our readers. If we can live up to these values, week-in-and-week-out, we can gain and maintain your trust – the most essential factor in any relationship.

Another commitment we’ve made is to produce a series of special reports to provide readers with perspective and insight on key public issues. For example, we will publish a special report next month on the “rise of Salisbury.” This report will take a serious look at the Downtown renaissance and the new tide of optimism and energy that is pushing the city forward and that has helped turn the local economy into one of the fastest growing in the country.

Changes caused by growth will inevitably bring a degree of conflict into the public debate, and we promise not to shy away from reporting on these challenges. But we also promise to maintain our position as “a watchdog with manners.” In the end, we are most interested in catching people doing something right. As a rule, we will continue to promote cooperation over controversy, and we will make our opinion pages available for a civil, open debate on the questions of the day.

We know this is consequential. Just this week, we heard a wise member of our local delegation to the state legislature point out just how important it is for different factions in the community to come together and to have those “difficult conversations,” so that at the end of the day, the city, county and community can move forward with a shared vision.

We want the Independent to play a role in promoting these “difficult conversations.”

Finally, we promise not to rest our laurels. We will keep seeking to create relevant content, and new ever-more effective marketing initiatives for our advertisers.

To set the tone for this next year, we have a new slogan for the Independent, which we believe captures the essence of our mission: “Reflecting your love for Salisbury!”

We hope you like it, and we trust you will continue to let us know how we are doing and what we can do to improve.

Darel La Prade is the publisher of the Salisbury Independent and five other weeklies on Delmarva. He can be reached at dlaprade@newszap.com.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.

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