Column: We’re proud to be your community newspaper

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on Sept. 22, 2009

Community involvement is a beautiful thing to behold.

And it was as big as a full moon Sept. 14, when more than 200 people showed up to watch the Geneva District 304 School Board pass a new budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

For those of you who haven’t been to a school board meeting before, that’s a fairly large audience on a night when sports teams weren’t being honored.

These were people who cared about how their tax money was being spent and were adamant about having their voices heard.

And it also shows why I’m excited about the future of community journalism.

When we can work together with our communities to delve into the issues that we all care about, well, that’s when we’re doing our job and that’s how we keep our jobs. And as long as people care about what goes on in their communities, we have a job to accomplish.

I celebrated my one-year anniversary with The Chronicle about the same time Geneva’s school board held its well-attended meeting. Ever since joining the staff, I’ve been preaching one consistent message: community, community, community.

We switched philosophies earlier this year and became a strictly community-focused newspaper, foregoing much of our national and regional coverage so that we could use our resources on stories going on in your neighborhood.

Hyper-local journalism has become somewhat of a catchphrase in our industry. I’m not particularly fond of the phrase myself. It brings to mind images of reporters hopping madly through towns after dousing themselves with a couple of grande lattes – a scary picture, indeed. But I am in favor of the concept.

I’ve always thought it was better to be really good at a few things then just OK at a lot of things. And we’ve taken that approach here at The Chronicle. We might not be the biggest paper in the Chicago area. But we will cover our specific towns better than anyone else.

And I’m excited about our future, especially since we have more full-time reporters solely devoted to the communities we cover than any other paper – one of the most important ingredients to being a successful community newspaper.

Our new St. Charles reporter Chelsea Schneider starts on Thursday and she has quite the list of issues to look into as she gets to know the members of that community.

Our longtime veteran reporters such as Eric Schelkopf in Batavia and Brenda Schory in Geneva and Campton Hills have continued to do a fantastic job covering their communities and are looking forward to refocusing on their communities after helping out in St. Charles for the past month.

Then there’s our other news reporters who cover the rest of our towns such as Elburn and Sugar Grove as well as the courts system and County Board and our sports team – which has been doing some amazing things with our prep sports coverage – and our photographers who make a concerted effort to make it out to as many events as possible.

I feel blessed to be part of such a talented team.

And we’ll all work together to ensure we fulfill our promise of being your community newspaper. Because let’s face it – we need your support as much as you need us to be there when things happen in your community. It’s the centuries-old relationship between information gatherers and consumers. And it, too, is a beautiful thing to behold.

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

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