David Krause: Community journalism is core element for our team
Views from the Newsroom
For more than a few decades, Paul Andersen has held the spot in the Monday op-ed page for The Aspen Times. For years, Paul thoughtfully crafted his perspective on the world around us and how it relates to the slice of Heaven we call home — the Roaring Fork Valley.
Certainly there is no replacing the voice Paul brought to the Times’ op-ed pages. For the next year, though, we’re going to use the Monday spot to bring some of the voices of our newsroom to these pages.
I will be joined by our publisher, Samantha Johnston, along with some of our reporters; we will take turns Mondays bringing our perspective to these pages in our “Views from the Newsroom.” It might be something we have discussed as a staff, how we covered a story, or our perspective on the privilege of living in this great place.
As the editor, I thought I’d kick it off with a few notes about how we see our role in community journalism. I’m entering my 40th year in the newspaper business (I was 14 when I was paid for my first high school sports story) and fifth year at The Aspen Times. We appreciate our readers and our connection to them, but we are always striving for ways to better that rapport. Here are a few things that we have continued to work on the past few months.
— The staff of The Aspen Times recently was honored by the Local Media Association, an organization of more than 3,000 news outlets across the country, for our community coverage of the pandemic. From the Aussie who jumped quarantine to the latest vaccine changes, our newsroom continues to find ways to tell the news of the day but also honor the efforts of our local front-line workers, the nonprofits who continue their tireless work, and our neighbors who keep finding the good in some of the most difficult times. I invite you to check out our coronavirus landing page (aspentimes.com/coronavirus) as well as our Silver Lining and Faces of the Pandemic projects.
— Many of you have noticed that at the start of 2021 we changed the commenting options on our website. We all know how emotional the events of 2020 became, from the pandemic to the presidential election to social injustices. After working for months on moderating tools and spending countless hours of staff resources trying to keep up with some of the conversations — especially those that unfortunately would turn ugly — we felt it best to step back and scale back the number of stories we open for commenting. We want to be a place where the community can share opinions, but too often on those politically charged stories the conversation digressed and moved off topic. That didn’t really help anything or build community. We are continuing to work with our IT teams and the vendor who supplies our commenting tools in efforts to make it a place where our readers can share opinions without being skewered for doing so.
— Perhaps you saw earlier this month that we launched our “Right to be Forgotten” initiative. As part of a nationwide media movement, we will re-examine old crime stories and in some cases we’ll amend if the charges have been expunged. It was a project I helped spearhead with our other Swift Communications editors, and we sought guidance and direction from editors at publications across the country. You can go to our homepage at aspentimes.com and scroll down out our Readers Tools section to submit the form for consideration.
— I started my nose for news at my high school newspaper in the early 1980s, and still remain in contact with two of my teachers who supported me back there. At the Times, we have made it a priority to take the time to work with the students at Aspen High’s Skier Scribbler over the past four years. Certainly this school year has been different, but we continue to make ourselves available to their advisers and the students on the staff. We also send our staffers to the annual GlenX Career Expo, which will continue this year virtually. Mentoring is an important role in any profession, and we are encouraged by the number of students in Aspen High’s growing journalism program.
— The offseason is just about upon us, and folks are starting to travel more outside the valley. We’re reviving our Sunday section “Where’s Your Aspen Times?” which was a popular reader-generated feature before we quit moving around. Take a copy of The Times and snap a pic with you and the paper and send it our way for our Sunday community page known as Aspen Misc. Or, if you have a great photo from the valley, send it our way as well. You can send those to email@example.com and put “Aspen Misc.” in the subject line. And if your group is sponsoring an event you’d like to add to our daily calendar, go to the Events listing on our homepage and click on “Add Your Event.”
As we continue to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic, you will see from us some bigger projects, both in our newsroom and in the community. We’re celebrating our 140th anniversary. What better way to celebrate than to connect with our community?
David Krause started as editor of The Aspen Times in February 2017 after more than 15 years at The Denver Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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