Welcome to my column. For those who missed my introduction in the Sept. 22 edition, I am R.J. Benner, the new publisher for the Whidbey News-Times, South Whidbey Record and Whidbey Crosswind. I intend on writing this column regularly, serving as a way to stay in touch with our readers, as well as providing insight into our operation, methodology and decision-making.
A mission critical request is that we need to hear from more of you. To get that started, I am hosting “Coffee With the Publisher” on the first Friday of every month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Whidbey Coffee, located at 980 SE Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor. I will be having another session each month in the southern half of the island, but those dates and times are still to be determined. My hope is to sit down, chat and share thoughts with our readers. To offer a chance to have your voice heard and questions answered.
A question I have heard on more than one occasion so far has been why does our news coverage always seem so negative? This is a balance we are always paying attention to, and while there are negative happenings that need to be covered, we are diligent in reporting the positive that occurs as well.
A negative story will resonate longer, and deeper, it feels more personal, and tends to stay top of mind. This can alter our perception. When we did a review earlier this year of our balance, we found that there were more uplifting articles than negative. This doesn’t mean we are content in our approach, we are always looking to deliver the most newsworthy content, and that means getting more leads and feedback from the community.
If there is a positive, newsworthy story, we want to know about it as well. Our reporters and editor work hard to deliver stories that the public needs to know. We love this island and care for it more than you may think. Our responsibility is to keep the public informed about both the good and the ugly.
I would also love to see more diversity in our letters to the editor. Even though my time here has been short, it has become obvious that we need to hear from more of you. I would love to see more positivity in these submissions as well. I encourage all of you to start contributing and help drive this change. The more you share, the more variety in our collective voice. These are your cities, towns, county and island. Let’s hear from you.
As my first month here comes to an end, I can sum up my experiences in one word. Amazing. From the embrace of the communities up and down the island, to the warmth and kindness offered by strangers, it has been unlike anywhere I have experienced, and for that, Thank You. I am humbled and honored to have a chance to serve such a wonderful group of citizens, and look forward to sharing more thoughts with this column in the future.