Village Voices: Why have a section like this anyway?
Welcome back from the long, holiday weekend. December is here, which means some locals may be getting anxious about holiday preparations, some already have Christmas trees decorated and songs like “Let It Snow” blaring constantly, and others may be reflecting on the past 12 months as the start of another year approaches.
For the Snowmass Sun, the start of December means it’s time for another Town Talk section, where you, readers, submit questions about anything you want to know about Snowmass Village, and the Sun works to find an answer, explaining our reporting choices along the way as part of the new Village Voices community page.
But the Sun didn’t receive any question submissions this week.
It’d be great to assume that means our readers feel fully informed about all that goes on in Snowmass Village and have no questions about areas of local community, business or government life they’d like to know more on.
It’s more realistic to guess that readers forgot to submit a question, which the Sun didn’t do much to help keep from happening, or chose not to for whatever reason.
Maybe that reason is readers don’t want to put their names out there with a question they fear could be considered dumb. Maybe that reason is readers think this section is dumb and they don’t want to take the time to be associated with it.
This is all speculation, of course, and there are hundreds of rabbit holes to go down in search of why there were no submissions, but the fact remains that there were no submissions. So, we at the Sun feels it’s important to do a better job explaining why we think this section is worth the community’s time to read and to be a part of — and are completely open to you telling us otherwise.
As iterated in the weeks leading up to the new Page 2 debut, Village Voices is meant to offer readers fresh, rotating content that allows them to engage with the Sun and their neighbors through a format different from a typical news article or conversation at the post office.
The page is driven by local participation and transparency, two important factors that contribute to trust in each other and the Snowmass Village community, and to trust in journalism.
It’s no secret. For decades, Americans’ trust in the country’s institutions, including government and journalism, has been on the decline. Some believe that decline is at an all-time low with the country’s current political climate and believed proliferation of fake and biased news media, while others gave up on their civic duties a long time ago.
According to 2018 Pew Research Center data, 75% of American adults surveyed felt that trust in the federal government has been shrinking, and 64% felt trust in each other is shrinking. Over half of respondents said both of these declines make it harder to solve the nation’s problems.
Why is there a lack of trust in U.S. institutions and in Americans? Researchers, scholars and surveyed citizens give a multitude of reasons, but a few like lack of transparency, namely of U.S. institutions, and politics, namely the nation’s stark political divide, are repeated again and again. Pew data also shows that about half of U.S. adults say made-up news and information is a very big problem in the country today and has a big impact on Americans’ confidence in government and in each other.
Of course, Snowmass Village doesn’t necessarily follow national trends. The town is known for its small, tight-knit culture, and the 2019 community survey shows 67% of Snowmass residents get their information on town government and services via newspaper articles, meaning there must be some level of trust in local journalism.
But it’s dangerous to assume Snowmass Village is an exception in any way to national trends and there is always room to improve. That’s why the Sun started Village Voices and the Town Talk section specifically. We feel it is important for locals to be able to ask their own questions and to understand how a reporter would go about finding answers, helping both build more trust in local journalism by showing readers the reporting process and in the local community by showing readers their neighbors are invested in the town’s happenings.
It’s not just about trust, though. It’s about connection too. The community page is for everyone in the village, young and old, full-time and part-time, workers and employers. By learning more about our neighbors — whether it’s through short profiles on locals, results of community polls, or Q&As — the Sun feels people will feel more connected to Snowmass Village and to each other.
Bottom line is the Sun is dedicated to building community through honest, accurate and fair journalism. We want locals to feel like they have a voice and are a part of Snowmass Village as more than just a worker or a resident.
That being said, if you think the Sun is way off base with the Town Talk series or Village Voices community page, we want to hear about it. Tell us what Page 2 can and should do to best serve the town.
And please, submit any questions about Snowmass Village you feel need to be answered, no matter how big or small. We’ll do a better job of reminding you.
Snowmass Sun, Reporter/Editor
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