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The COURIER has much to be thankful for

The COURIER staff was dining on a recent afternoon at Aruffo’s for our annual Christmas party when I stood up, preparing to say a few words. As I gazed around the table it was clear this group felt really good about working in Claremont and for the COURIER, creating a newspaper each week that has been a real city institution.

There was a general vibe we are making positive contributions to the community we serve and live in. That’s a really good feeling.

So here we were, almost in 2019 and working for a news business that made solid improvements in readership and revenue. In fact, this year we had the largest readership gains in my 12 years as publisher. The big reason for these gains was not a new digital product or business model or a new owner. We did it the old-fashioned way by selling more newspapers and more advertising.

I know for certain there are not many publishers who can say this. And all this was accomplished at a time where there’s an assault on the news business. As the number of career journalists drops, so do the sources of accurate information.

Never in my dreams did I envision watching a tweeting, media-hating US president call us the enemy. President Trump’s inability to tell the truth continues to create fake news, making the real story harder to find. It’s also why readers seek out media companies—large and small—with reputations for providing accurate information. 

You may think all this would not trickle down to small town America, but it does. So yes, the false cries of “fake news” is one reason COURIER readership has increased. People want the truth and have confidence knowing that’s how we roll. But it also has a dark side that is frustrating, unfair and sometimes feels personal.

Claremont residents have a long history of getting involved when feeling passionate about a cause or issue. It’s what makes our city so unique and special. The downside is some residents—even with the best of intentions—will use techniques out of the Trump media playbook by using personal attacks to discredit others with opposing views. Sadly, this happened several times during the Claremont city council election.

The news media is an easy target for politicians who want to play the blame game for negative public opinion about job performance. This “shoot the messenger” mentality is as popular as ever right now, although I’m very hopeful this will change in Claremont with new leadership in place.

My advice? Residents really don’t want to hear elected officials—even volunteer committee members—complain about how hard their job is or try to lay blame on others when things don’t pan out as expected. In the end, I will personally make sure the COURIER supports initiatives important to our city’s future; just as we have for decades.

We know readers will sometimes not agree with something published in the COURIER. In some cases, they overthink our reasons for publishing a story. This may sound odd, but being accused of having a secret agenda when our effort is to produce quality journalism is simply unjustified. Our process is not as complicated as some may think.

This happened just this week, for example, when a resident alleged we paired news stories in the front of the edition to negatively impact paid parking in the Village. “We must have an agenda,” we were told. Never mind that we have published city news on page 3 for years, just so readers can easily find it all in one place. It’s a simple design technique, not a master plan to influence opinion.

I talk openly about these issues in an effort to remind our readers the COURIER’s goal is simply to publish a variety of ideas, insights, opinions and, most importantly, news. From our view, objective news reporting is essential to a healthy democracy.

We present direct information to Claremont residents, knowing they are smart enough to make up their own minds about what to support. In the event of an endorsement, when we do take a side, residents are still free to make up their own minds.

This goal really has not changed since we started in 1907. But I will confess, it does seem a little harder now to just agree to disagree.

With all this being said, the Claremont community continues to show enormous support for our mission to inform the public. Our city is loaded with people who really do care. We truly appreciate the efforts of all our community members, even our critics. And that is the core reason why the COURIER staff feels fortunate to play a small role in making Claremont a better place to live.

I’d like to wish all our readers happy holidays as we jump into 2019. I have a feeling some good things are going to happen!