From The Editor: Making a true community newspaper

Bassett.mugIn October 1960, I was born in Peninsula General Hospital on South Division Street in Salisbury. In October 1999, I was named managing editor of The Daily Times. From my new office, across from Peninsula Regional Medical Center, I could look out and see the the window of the hospital room where I was born.

In the span of 39 years, my life had managed to cross just a city street.

It’s been observed that as a river flows further from its source, it widens. If I were a river, then, I could only be considered a ditch.

This ditch who is quite happy to have maintained his grassy, flood-prone banks in Salisbury. The hub city of the Eastern Shore has always been my home; the things that happen here have always held the most meaning in my life.

Serving as editor of my hometown newspaper was the fulfillment of my lifetime ambition. I believed then, as I do now, the value of sharing important news events, telling the people stories that make any town unique, helping to identify community problems and in offering a forum where readers and citizens can suggest and weigh solutions.

The readers must always come first: News stories and content must be delivered accurately to readers and seek perspectives that reflect their deep-seeded local culture, values and history.

In the Salisbury newspaper market, many have told me there’s a need for more of the traditional news coverage people enjoy. And that is where Salisbury Independent comes into the community picture.

Ask yourself: Is your school, church, neighborhood or civic association being given adequate space in your local news source? Are the accomplishments of your students, neighbors, businesses and community being sufficiently talked about? Does your neighborhood or interest group have a voice?

Do you find yourself wading through headlines concerning news in three states and 11 counties — when all you want is to know is what business is going up at the corner where you see a pile of freshly piled dirt?

That’s where Salisbury Independent should and will step up. We will truly stand out as local-local. In other words, news from elsewhere will never crowd out news from the Wicomico core communities.

In my 35 years in the newspaper business, I have gotten to work at big papers, small, family-owned papers and corporate outposts. One thing for certain is that people who operate small newspapers do so because they love what they do. They know they matter. They believe with all their heart that their readers and the causes of the local community matter.

They find great joy — personally and professionally — when they can help bring divergent groups together, who go on to accomplish something good.

That’s why local papers exist, and why they must (and will) continue to exist. Someone has to be there to aid those who are making an effort. When things go wrong, someone has to put those failures in context and offer perspective. Someone has to tout worthy achievements. Someone has to recognize and celebrate the community’s victories.

Our goal is for Salisbury Independent to do all of that — and more.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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