Have you ever met someone who’s given you a lengthy introduction?
Moments after you shake this person’s hand, he launches into a lengthy oral autobiography, listing his life’s achievements, his childhood foibles, his struggles and his perseverance to succeed. If he has a map handy, perhaps he’ll point out his hometown and the current location of each of his children. You smile and nod politely, of course, because you’re a polite chap, but inside you might be thinking that you didn’t sign up for the guided tour of this person’s life.
Finally, your new friend seems to be in the home stretch. After a solid five minutes, he puts a period on the end of his final sentence and then looks at you expectantly.
“Well, enough about me,” he said. “Tell me about yourself.”
What if he had said that to begin with?
Any newspaper worth its ink knows what its main job is: to tell a community about itself. Recognition of individual writers and editors and accolades are nice, of course, but they’re secondary. A newspaper needs to meet with the people it serves, say, “Tell me about yourself” and then tell its readers the story of the person, the event or the issue that is affecting the readership.
I’m the new editor of the Forest Lake Times. I and my fellow writers want to be on the lookout for the news and information that you need to know, but a newspaper that only talks to its readers without listening to them as well is bound to miss some things. We want to hear from you.
Is there a story you think deserves some coverage? Tell us about it. Is there an interesting person in town who you think others would like to know about? Give us a call. Have you taken a great picture of a recent happening? If you send it in, we might just decide that our readers would really like to see it.
That applies to all forms of communication. You have our phone number and email address, and you can walk into our new office on North Lake Street. See the picture attached to this story? That’s what I look like. If you see me around town and are struck with a topic you think the paper needs to know about, stop me and speak your piece.
Now, it’s quite possible we might already know about whatever it is you have to say. We do our homework here, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the content our readers want to consume. However, perspective is a valuable thing in this business. You might have a vantage point that I don’t on a given situation, and there might be something you can see there that I haven’t.
In short? Your views are valuable to us. Share them.
OK, I’ll try to make this quick. My name is Ryan Howard. I’m 26, and I’ve been married for three years. My wife’s name is Kim; our 11-month-old son’s name is Reginald. I’m a Christian. I grew up in Cohasset, Minnesota, a small town near Grand Rapids. I attended Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern-St. Paul) in Roseville. Before arriving here, I worked at a couple of north metro suburban newspapers and for a daily in Fergus Falls. In my free time, I like reading, The Beatles and Star Wars.
But enough about me. Tell me about yourself.