Editorial: What is Our Role and Vision?

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By Korie Marshall

Here at the Goat, we always appreciate feedback and comments, both negative and positive, and we do get both. Some recent comments have made us realize that not everyone understands our role and our vision or goal for this paper, so we thought now would be a good time to talk about it.

We want to provide a good service to the community and our advertisers, and be trustworthy. We want to be entertaining, informative and surprising. We want to be a record for the community, something you can look back on later to see what the big issues were, and compare now with five years ago and five years into the future. We want to do good journalism, which often means asking difficult questions, and digging for information which can sometimes be painful. We believe that knowing is better than not knowing, and we know that most things and situations are not simple. We try to be flexible, limber like the goat in our name, and are willing to take risks when necessary.

We know there is more than one side to every story, and we try to get as many sides as we can. We try to be unbiased, but we recognize that the act of covering a story can show bias – we are saying it matters. Maybe we are not always right, and that is why we like input from the community. We like reading your letters and hearing your comments, and we like seeing and sharing your pictures, and learning about what you are doing.

If you look below the mountain profile on this page, it says we are a locally-owned community newspaper, one of only a few in the province. “We believe being part of the community we serve contributes to accountability and a strong local voice, unhindered by corporate profit interests.” That is not just a tag line. We are members of the community, and we want to give a voice to people who sometimes don’t have one. Our advertisers are important to us, because of course we have costs, but it is important to recognize that we are independent. It is us that make the choices, not a head office somewhere else. Our advertisers can decide what goes in their ads, but not what goes in our paper. That is why it is important for us to make sure an ad looks like an ad.

And like many businesses and residents, we try to support organizations and events in the community – but like everyone else, we can’t do it all. We sometimes have to make decisions about what we can get done.

Laura, Alison and I live in Valemount, but we are not just interested in Valemount. We are interested in the entire Robson Valley, which is why we made the choice to hire Frank last winter, to help us cover McBride as well as the rest of the valley. But we didn’t hire him as an event photographer, or to chronicle the goings on in the valley. If people think there is a need for that, anyone is free to step up and do that, and in fact, I think some people are using resources like the internet and social media to do that very well.

We hired Frank as an investigative reporter, and to do his job, he needs to ask questions. We all do. And that becomes very difficult when people arbitrarily decide they are not going to answer questions from certain people, or they are just not going to answer questions at all. I know it is not just us having this problem – other media representatives and other members of the community are having it too.

In many parts of our community, it seems people are reacting very emotionally right now, and becoming very defensive when questions are asked. I have always thought it was important to make sure everyone has access to the same information, and that doesn’t seem to be the case right now. I don’t think we are the only community having this problem, but I think we are uniquely able to come up with a solution, if we work together.