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Why I’m proud of this newspaper

I’ve been writing this column for a month now and I think I’ve apologized in just about every one.

I’ve apologized in some way or another because I know change is difficult and this paper has been about nothing but change since I got to town in August.

In this column, I’ve begged everyone to bear with me. I’ve admitted to making changes too fast for some and not fast enough for others.

I think my guilt in all of this stems partly from being so new to the area and wanting people to accept the new paper even though you may not have accepted me. Yet.

But in today’s column, I’m going to put the humility aside and brag a little bit. I’m going to celebrate our success, without apology.

The staff of this newspaper ” many of whom have lived in Grand County for decades, if not generations ” have been working hard to make the paper better. And they deserve some applause.

On Oct. 15, I woke up feeling like it was Christmas. I couldn’t wait to get dressed and run outside and see the first edition of the Sky-Hi Daily News on the street.

Those pages represented a lot of thought and a lot of late nights by a lot of people.

With the new format, here are a few of the things you gained:

-Our Web site? http://www.skyhidailynews.com is updated regularly. Not only can you read the stories of the day, but you can also read the newspaper itself ” page for page. In the center of the homepage, below the first four news stories of the day, you’ll see a rectangular button that reads, “Click here to Read Today’s Paper.” Click on that button and you’ll see the paper exactly the way it appears in print. Hit the arrow keys to turn the pages or click on a story, photo or ad to see it magnified. This is also a great way to view the classifieds.

-Next day coverage. Our reporters attend town council and school board meetings, then come back to the office at 9 to 10 p.m. and write a story so you can read about it the next day.

And this next day coverage goes for all our news. If something happens on Tuesday, you should read about it on Wednesday.

– Expanded sports coverage. Our philosophy of next day coverage also applies to national sports. Our news editor, Drew Munro, has a radio on his desk to listen to games that might not end until 10 p.m. On Monday night, he waited for the final score of the Broncos vs. Packers game and got the story in the next day’s paper. We also run an extensive, daily page of sports scores from games across the country, as well as times and channels for games that will be aired that night.

– Photo galleries. Have you ever seen a photo in the newspaper and wanted to have a copy? Whether it’s one of Byron Hetzler’s beautiful scenic shots or an action photo from last night’s football game, we post them all on our Web site and they are all available for purchase in a variety of sizes. To find the photos, look for the word “Photo Galleries” on the left hand side of our Web site ” http://www.skyhidailynews.com.

– On Wednesdays, we run a page of photos of animals at the shelter, waiting to be adopted. It’s almost impossible to look into the eyes of those little guys and not make a trip to the shelter. Through that page, many of those animals have found homes.

– Good Neighbor Award. The biggest complaint I heard about the media is that “If it bleeds, it leads.” Sometimes negative news is necessary, but it shouldn’t drive the newspaper. That’s why we put the Good Neighbor Award on the front page. Once people get in the habit of nominating each other for their good deeds, I hope to hear people say, “Only in Grand County, does someone shoveling an elderly woman’s driveway make the front page of the newspaper.”

Things we kept because you asked:

– Cops and courts. Because I received so many calls asking me to stop running the cops and jail reports, I decided to put it out there for discussion in last week’s column. I received several letters to the editor and enormous response to our online poll. We asked, “Should the newspaper continue to print the jail and court reports? As of Wednesday morning, 182 people voted. 141 people said, “yes.” We will publish the reports every Tuesday and whatever we don’t have space to run, will run on Wednesday.

– Local columnists. Again, I opened this up for a vote. I ran the names of local columnists to see who you love and to see if there is anyone who goes unread. The response was so overwhelming, it prompted me to buy a letter opener to save my fingers. According to the final tally, Jon de Vos’ “Friday Report” is your favorite column. (By the way, we offered to enter all ballots into a drawing for a $100 City Market gift certificate, which went to Grand Lake resident Lenny Brooks.)

Here are the things you lost and want back:

– Real estate transactions. Though you might not realize it, the real estate transactions can take an entire afternoon to type up for publication. It took me a while to find someone willing to do it, but I did. They should start running again next week in Grand County Homes and Properties, our weekly real estate guide that is inserted in the Friday paper.

– Pluggers. I received a surprising number of calls and e-mails asking why we got rid of the cartoon, “Pluggers.” So, on Wednesday morning, I called the Tribune Media Service and asked for a subscription to the cartoon. You’ll start seeing it again next week.

– Builder Dog. It is a fact that in my home state of Wyoming, there are more cows than people. To compare, I think the unofficial slogan in Grand County is “more dogs than people.”

I’ve had a few requests to bring back our Builder Dog feature in the real estate weekly. Among those requests was a suggestion to change it to Valley Dog or County Dog. I like that idea. The only way it will get off the ground is if you participate. Send me pictures of you dog, along with your name, the dog’s name and any other pertinent biographical information, and I’ll publish it.

Obviously, the Sky-Hi Daily News is taking shape, but it is still a work in progress. The only way this newspaper will become what you want is for there to be open communication between the readers and the editor. Call me at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19600, e-mail me at aphillips@grandcountynews.com or stop by the office at 424 E. Agate Avenue in Granby.


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