One of the cornerstones in a journalism life is trying to make sense of the larger and ever-changing world and then conveying the local elements to the world we reach.
My dad still writes a weekly column called Over the Back Fence for the Clark County-based newspaper known as the TRG (Tribune Record Gleaner). The column’s origins were in 1960s Polk County, where he tried to make sense of how agriculture was changing from his boyhood days of horses and kerosene lanterns.
At some point in my boyhood, lead type gave way to the first Macintosh computers. The way editors and reporters learn about what happens in the world stayed the same in the years when I worked for him in Loyal. Newspaper publishing dates were usually early to mid-week, driven not by press schedules, but grocery store ads. Loyal had multiple grocery stores, and two-page ads were not uncommon. We mailed, and dozens of other publishers returned the favor, exchange newspaper all over Wisconsin and Minnesota. The exchanges arrived on Thursday and Friday and lunch on those days usually included a look at the Lodi Enterprise or Waunakee Tribune.
Sometime in the 1990s, the editor decided to share a column of capsule, top headlines and stories with the readers. Around the Area tried to capture the unique flavor of stories in other Wisconsin communities, while perhaps showing readers how the same dilemmas they faced were handled in other places.
The DeForest Times-Tribune is part of a larger Hometown News Group which is part of a larger company. The exchanges of old are now a Thursday email chain highlighting the top stories coming from each publication. Usually, those top stories are available for distribution to our readers.
I mention all this to explain how I try to convey the stories of the larger world to DeForest and Windsor. In last week’s edition, I shared a story about Milton’s plans for a new $4.4 million fire hall. I shared the story, not to fill your curiosity about Rock County, but to show those who are planning for a similar facility here what others were doing to fix a similar need. In the previous edition, a story on Waunakee’s plans for a new pool was meant for similar consumption.
If you are a reader who likes a what’s on the radar view, I hope those articles help you make sense of your world. If there are more targeted methods to deliver that slice of the news, please let us know.
In a similar vein, having the resources of a large media company allows to access syndication and other resources for stories and opinion pieces from around the globe. Thanks to advertiser support, we offer Mark Walters’ unique column on the sporting life in Wisconsin. If there is a columnist or other feature you feel strongly about, please let us know.
Opinion pages should reflect the rich diversity of voices of our community and beyond. I hope we match that goal in 2022. You can generally count on hearing from at least one middle-aged white guy each week. If you have or know the voices that reflect others in our world, please let us know.
We welcome letters to the editor. 2022 is an election year, so I’m sure we will get plenty of cut-and-paste style letters in support of this candidate or another. Providing a personal and localized view of people or positions is always the best way to get one published.
By virtue of my new home, I hope we can meet locally in 2022.