Take the time to mend bridges

There is a lot of talk throughout this county about bridges. The supervisors talk about them, city councils are planning to fix those within their city limits and in a council of government meeting last month, the councils all combined to discuss a bridge issue.

Never before have I heard so much about bridge building and repair. And believe it or not, since moving into this county, I’m doing quite a bit of bridge repair myself.

But my bridges are more figurative. Since I became editor two weeks ago, I’ve spent much of my time trying to mend bridges that were recently burned. What I didn’t realize when I took this job was that there were so many people who were unhappy with this paper. The thing that has become even more obvious is that bridges take much more time to rebuild than they do to destroy.

It takes just one hour, just one conversation to burn a bridge. It can take years to rebuild it. I also realize that I may never be able to fix some of the burnt bridges. This paper will probably never convert to being just the Spirit Lake paper again. It will not reinstate the Milford Mail or the Lake Park News. We are a county-wide paper now. It is a bridge we have crossed, and in a sense, it is a bridge we have burned.

It is also likely that we will never go back to having just one edition on the weekend. We need to be bi-weekly for both space and money issues. But there are things that I cannot change, bridges that I cannot repair.

The bridges I’m working to mend are the relationships – the partnerships with our readers and our businesses. We want to serve you, to write the stories you want to read and to talk to you about what you’re up to.

I want to thank all of those who have already gone out of their way to help me rebuild the bridges – those who didn’t have to give this 22-year-old editor a chance, but who did nonetheless. And for those I haven’t yet met, I dare you to help me repair a broken bridge and to open your mind to what this paper could be.

I’m open to all of your suggestions. My goal as your editor is to listen to what you want and to give it to you. But first, you need to tell me what you want. We’re already putting together a survey to include in an upcoming edition. We’re also doing verbal surveys when we do interviews to find out what you want to read about.

And I’m attending a conference later this month to study what readers want. Please help us in this endeavor. Help us create a newspaper that crosses the bridges within the county, one that listens to what readers want and one that gives it to you.

Your part is simple. Just let us know what you want from this newspaper. Then we’ll start working to give it to you.