Editorial: trust, journalism and community

Andru McCracken, interim editor

by ANDRU MCCRACKEN, INTERIM EDITOR

I am really pleased to be filling in as the interim editor. It’s a pleasure to take over Evan Matthews’ position and I wish him great success in Jasper. I hope he achieves great things in part because of what he learned here.

It’s been a long time since I wrote weekly stories on deadline. Frankly it’s harder than I remember.

Context, story ideas, organization… it takes a lot to produce a compelling newspaper story.

And I realize that I don’t actually have all the tools to do a good job, I’ve got a great camera, all sorts of audio recording devices, a good pen and a nice pad of paper, a computer with a massive monitor that caters to my failing eyesight. But I’m missing one piece.

One of the tools doesn’t come from the stationery store.

Trust.

It’s like a tool you might find in a blacksmith shop, vital, unique and always forged in house.

If a story is important, and I hope a great deal of the stories we cover will be important to you, there needs to be an element of trust. Trust doesn’t come out of thin air.

So what can I do to build that trust?

It’s an open question.

I hope to prove that I’m committed to telling your story fairly and accurately, and that I care about your perspective.

Whatever my biases are, I will do my best to set them aside to tell your story or point of view.

It sounds a little lofty, a bit weak, but there it is.

“Why?” you ask. “What is the benefit in taking the risk of trusting the latest journalist?”

Beautiful things can happen when the left hand knows what the right is doing. A common understanding in communities is a foundation to build on.

I said common understanding, not agreement.

We don’t need to agree. That is a lunatic proposition (and diversity of opinions is the reason I moved here a decade and a half ago). When we have a solid understanding of each other’s perspectives that underscore the values we share, well, that is gold.

That’s why our communities do so well in crisis.

Day to day we hold our family grudges dear. Parade them around like expensive fur coats. And we waste our time

denying the good in each other. Looking for the bad, we invariably find it.

But in a crisis we quickly find a common goal, we transform ourselves from judge back to community member and lend a hand. On equal ground. For the common good.

When the crisis is averted, it all goes back to usual. Some people, I think, are proud of the bipolar nature of our small communities, but we pay a high price for it.

We are less happy, less trusting, less open to great ideas and good solutions. People who need support are less likely to find it.

So back to building trust in the newspaper, the reason I’d like you to consider placing your trust in me is just this: to find more common ground. To spend more of our time making our communities better. Together.

On my own, I haven’t got much to offer. Just weird little stories from two little villages and a raft of communities around them. But if I am able to tell stories that help reveal our shared values, well, that can be a worthwhile community craft.