I’ve been in the newspaper writing business since 1979.
I know what it’s like to receive praise from readers. And I know what it’s like to receive criticism from readers.
When complaints from readers are appropriate — especially when we’ve made a mistake — we/I own those mistakes, apologize and move on.
But there’s a truth I’ve learned in my five decades, going on six, in this business — words have a way of building up and tearing down.
As I said, we need to be attentive to criticism. But there are times when we’re unfairly criticized.
Case in point — or cases in point. We’re not the campus newspaper for College of Idaho, nor are we the campus newspaper for Northwest Nazarene. And we’re not the Boise State Herald either.
We’re not just a Canyon County newspaper anymore. We’re a Treasure Valley newspaper, and you’ll find in our sports section on a daily basis what we deem is the top stories from college to high schools.
News bulletin: We’re not going to abandon Canyon County. You have my promise. I can’t say that loud enough.
We strive for balance. But the word balance is a tricky word.
Balance doesn’t mean the same amount of stories for all the schools. Balance doesn’t mean the same number of column inches devoted to coverage. Balance doesn’t mean the same amount of section front coverage.
The word balance means we strive to reach all corners of the Treasure Valley — period. And it will look a lot different from day to day.
If you want to talk balance, though, how do you balance these apples — the size of crowds for Boise State athletic events against the size of crowds for College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene athletic events. Say about a crowd of 35,000 vs. a crowd of say 3,500. This, friends, isn’t equal nor should coverage be equal.
I have no problem with the occasional email from readers criticizing coverage. But this all reached a tipping point last week when one of our writers was covering an event at one of the smaller colleges. Our writer was interviewing an athlete after a game when he was accosted by a fan. Thankfully this was witnessed by the school’s sports information director.
This isn’t going to be tolerated. I’ve been instructed by our management that if this happens again, we have the right to excuse ourselves from the situation and just leave.
We’re the only newspaper in the area that covers C of I and NNU on a regular basis. Last fall, for example, we were there for every home Yotes football game including the playoffs. Covering Yotes football was a priority.
The week the Yotes played, we did a feature and devoted one whole page to pregame coverage. Try finding that anywhere else.
When we couldn’t be at College of Idaho recently when the men’s basketball team clinched a conference title, I arranged for coach Colby Blaine to call me at the office so I could get quotes in the game story. For which, by the way, Blaine was appreciative.
But when I came in on Tuesday after my days off, I had a nice email and voicemail waiting for me, criticizing us for our lack of coverage.
I’m a big boy. And I can deal with criticism when it’s warranted.
I’m not going to beleaguer this point. Just know that when it comes to coverage, we’ll strive to be as balanced as we can. But also know that we have a different meaning for balance than many readers do.