Column: Stay-cations and community newspapers

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Aug. 5, 2009

Last week, for the first time since I joined the workforce, I had nothing to do for an entire week.

My vacation weeks up to this point have consisted of visiting family, getting married and recovering from surgery. (Not as different as you might think, really. All three involved keeping people happy and following instructions.)

This time, though, I took what many people now are calling a stay-cation.

For an entire week, I went for walks around my neighborhood, caught up on some reading, watched an unhealthy amount of daytime TV (thank goodness for the Discovery and History channels), and generally loafed around.

By the start of the this week, though, I was ready to get back to work. Loafing, it turns out, is best done in moderation.

After getting caught up the first few days back on the beat, I’m now turning my attention toward the future and refocusing on what I believe is the most important part of my job – improving this paper and making The Chronicle the best community newspaper it possibly can be.

A lot of the books and articles I read during my stay-cation were about the state of newspapers. (I’m a journalism junkie. I just can’t help myself.) With all the hand-wringing about the future of newspapers, though, the continued bright spot in our industry seems to be community newspapers.

People want to know what’s going on in their communities, and the bigger papers simply aren’t providing that information these days.

That’s where The Chronicle comes in, and that’s where we have to continue to improve.

Good community newspapers bind a town together – linking neighbors who pay the same tax rates, send their kids to the same schools, go to the same community events.

We need to shed light on what those in power are doing, introduce readers to others in the community with a story to tell, share with the entire community what is happening where and why.

This is our job. This is why we exist.

And this is what we here at The Chronicle will continue to strive for.

I had a nice stay-cation. And in five or six months, I’m sure I’ll be ready for another one – maybe even an actual vacation next time. But there’s a lot of work to get done between now and then, and I’m looking forward to seeing just how far we can progress.

And if you have any ideas on things you would like to see more of in The Chronicle, I would love to hear them. This is, after all, a community newspaper. We need your ideas and support. We’re all in this together.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. Write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

Editor’s notes:

• The Art In Your Eye fine art show and festival in downtown Batavia will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Batavia Riverwalk at Houston Street and Island Avenue. Be sure to check out our Spark section today to find out more about this festival. Also, we’re always looking for upcoming events to spotlight in our Out & About and Best Bets. You can submit event suggestions to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

• I’m a big fantasy baseball buff, so I was especially interested to read Kevin Chroust’s story on Tyler Ladendorf in our “In the Cougars’ Den” section on page 27. Ladendorf was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Oakland Athletics for shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who is on one of my fantasy teams and whose value took a slight dip because of the trade. Now, Ladendorf plays for the Cougars. Small world and another reason why this should be my last season of fantasy baseball. I should not be able play Six Degrees of Separation between Chronicle stories and my fantasy baseball team. It’s just not healthy.

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