orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Opinion

April 20, 2013

Changes:

ORANGE — It’s unfortunate that my first column to the readers of The Orange Leader had to come on the heels of the news in Thursday’s publication that the Orange Leader will become a two day a week publication. Something I’m definitely not excited about seeing happen, but unfortunately was already in process when I took over last week. So I do apologize to you, the reader, for having to go through another change.

Changes like these happen for a number of reasons, reduction in revenues, struggling economies, high unemployment rates, the internet; you name it, but the biggest reason is a community newspaper should always mirror the community it serves. So if the community changes, so will the newspaper that serve it.

Changes that have been a major part of the Orange Leader and have affected its subscribers and reader base over the past couple of years have been many! I’m not going to sit here and say that the individuals making those decisions were right or wrong, nor do I know the mindset behind them. I do, however, think the questions should have been asked at some point. “What is The Orange Leader to the communities it serves”? “What is it supposed to be and what does the community expect it to be”? “Is The Orange Leader mirroring the communities it serves”? Once those questions are answered, then we can make a decision on what changes need to be made, both good and bad.

Yes, I currently am the publisher for both The Port Arthur News and The Orange Leader. And I understand that many individuals may feel like the Orange Leader is just a Port Arthur News knock off. That is unfortunate and I intend to work diligently to change that mindset as The Orange Leader must be completely separate from The Port Arthur News. Of course there is some news in Port Arthur that this community will be interested in, as well as Orange County news that folks in Port Arthur want to know about, so we share. But for the most part, The Orange Leader needs to be focused on the communities in Orange County that is serves, and the news that is most pertinent to its readers.

I have been in the newspaper business close to 30 years. My views on what a community newspaper is and should be are very strong. I believe a local newspaper should be the unbiased information source for the community it serves. United as one with the community and giving the community information to create their own views and make their own decisions on topics and events, thus the true meaning of a Community Newspaper. Readers come to The Orange Leader to read local news, not national and world-wide news. They get that on tv, I know I do.

I believe a local newspaper should be a community watch dog. When something happens, or a high profile individual does something wrong, the community should have the confidence that their local newspaper will cover it and put it front and center on the front page, so they know what’s going on.

I believe all media should maintain honesty, integrity, accuracy, thoroughness and fairness in the reporting and editing of articles, headlines and graphics. It’s pretty straight forward I think, but somehow, some professionals in our industry that covers newspapers, radio, television and now the internet, feel that creating “Entertainment Media” is more important. I, however, do not!

I hope, through this column, I was able to clear the air just a little on what has transpired over the past few days. And I also hope that you, the reader, will feel free to contact me at The Leader office with thoughts, questions, inquiries or even just to blow off a little steam. I’m good with that!

Follow me on Twitter @rich_macke

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