Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2000

Board ponders DeSoto’s future

August 24, 2000

I recently got a mouthful of Doc and Brutie's barbeque and an earful of feedback.

Several DeSoto leaders gathered and committed to helping The Explorer to be a reflection of life here and address what is important to DeSotans.

This community advisory board will meet monthly to talk about tough issues such as how to promote our town while being honest about its shortcomings.

Our first meeting included a fantastic discussion on the most important issues facing DeSoto.

The Explorer will continue to celebrate what is right about this community. We also need to measure what needs to be fixed. This is where this community advisory board will help.

One of my mentors, John Ginn, eloquently wrote a few years ago, "Newspapers need to provide lessons that help readers shore up any areas of sagging self-esteem. Challenged communities need can-do spirits, and they need lots of them. The local newspaper is uniquely positioned to nurture such feeling of self-worth.

"In much the same way, such papers can help larger segments of their communities appreciate the nourishing capacities of healthy debate. Many communities are badly scarred and sometimes crippled by the ravages of single-issue politics.

"Their newspapers can and should help residents understand how to come to the table prepared to disagree when necessary but to do so agreeably and to do so with a willingness to listen carefully to contrary arguments."

DeSoto's challenges are similar to many communities. We face issues of planned growth, infrastructure and taxes like any community.

Open forum at council meetings and Steve Prudden's town meetings invite the community to express what government should be doing.

But while we can and should look at what the government can do to help the community, we should also look at what our citizens can do to affect the quality of life here. I believe the advisory board's greatest accomplishment will not be in improving The Explorer, but in improving DeSoto at large.

American Family Insurance owner Jim Beadle, DeSoto High Principal Debbie Lynn, council member Linda Zindler and DeSoto State Bank vice-president Steve Duncan will be full-time members of the board.

We will rotate additional people through the board to give us fresh voices as we look at DeSoto and The Explorer's role in covering your hometown.

Last week, we discussed issues facing DeSoto in our first meeting. Our next meeting will look at the newspaper's role in covering these issues and the community.

If there's something The Explorer can do better, I hope the board will have ideas for ways we can improve. If you have suggestions or input you'd like to give, talk to Linda, Steve, Debbie or Jim, or call me and we can put you on the list of rotating board members.

The best community newspaper isn't just about the joy that comes with every birth notice we publish. It also isn't about listing obituary notices, although that serves a purpose.

The best community newspaper delivers news about every moment between those life-changing events.

With the new advisory board in place, I hope you'll see a reflection of all that is important to DeSoto.

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