By Liz Schott
On this day in 1883, the first edition of The Gazette was published. Several months later, my great-great grandfather, Clarence Miller, and his brother-in-law, Fred Faulkes, bought the fledgling newspaper, The Gazette Company, which has become an institution in service to our community for five generations.
Back in 1883, there were many daily newspapers in this budding town of entrepreneurs on the edge of the frontier. The Industrial Era was ramping up, and innovators thrived, creating businesses, institutions and enterprises, many of which remain strong today. My forefathers respected and understood that our company’s role was both to reflect and to shape our community in service to the greater good — a weighty responsibility.
That service has taken many shapes and forms over the years, from literally announcing verdicts of important trials from the balcony of our downtown office generations ago, to creating a new form of local news with the start of KCRG-TV9 60 years ago, to sending news and weather text alerts today over mobile networks.
The more things change, the more they stay the same — connecting people with the information they need to live informed and fulfilling lives.
As we move into this Digital Information Age of information overabundance, our value proposition to you, dear reader, is a very different one than it was even a generation ago, when information was relatively scarce, and we were comfortably in the Industrial Age.
But the core service remains helping you — our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues — make sense of this wonderful and crazy world.
We are committed to evolving our traditional institutional roles — government watchdog, champion of regional economic development, and booster for the arts and culture — for the Digital Information Age as it unfolds.
This means finding new ways of developing a collective understanding and facilitating community conversations around important and complex issues (many of which have no one “correct” answer). Specifically for 2013, they include:
l Flood protection.
l Watershed management and economic development for our Cedar and Iowa River neighborhoods.
l Development of world-class entertainment options, which may include a Linn County gaming casino.
l Transforming education to unfold the potential of every child.
l The 2013 state legislative session.
These issues are each in an information flow of their own, but also are, in many ways, interrelated. With your help, we will endeavor to put each of these issues into greater context in the coming months.
It is hard work to make sense of it all, but just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. In generations past, simply writing and broadcasting reports of what happened, or was going to happen tomorrow, was enough to create a community dialogue, spur people to action and strengthen our democracy. Today, not so.
We are experimenting and exploring new methods of storytelling and information sourcing, some of which will be wildly successful, and some of which will end up being lessons in how not to proceed. Your feedback will guide us, as it always has.
As we look forward to our next 130 years, I offer an update to our 100th year motto, which was “A past to remember, a future to report.” Today, we still have a past to remember, but we also have a future to create, together, not just report.
We are a vibrant, world-class, transformational community and becoming more so every day. Thanks for being part of the journey.
Liz Schott is Director of Community Relations for The Gazette Company and a member of The Gazette Editorial Board. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 368-8520
Liz Schott, Director of Community Relations, discusses The Gazette Co.’s heritage and strategies for the digital age:Noon Friday, at www.thegazette.com