As I have gotten older, I have tried to be more humble. I try not to get too high and, in the same token, too low when it comes to work, personal life or kids life.
But, there was an event that happened one year ago that made me think back on the past year back here at the Valley News and, you know what, I am going to brag a little.
When Hubbard Hall in Elizabethtown burned down one year ago, I went to cover it in the early morning hours the way most reporters would — pen, pencil and camera.
After I got into the office, however, I went back with a new little piece of equipment, a Flip camera.
Later that day, we had video up from the scene, including interviews and moving pictures from the blaze — the first that was on any journalism site.
Since, we have expanded our video and tried to get different types of events and forums online, including basketball games of the week, interviews and press conferences.
Also, since we entered our new design platform at thevalleynews.org, we have been putting numerous photo galleries online, also trying to range from sporting events to breaking news and feature items.
Along with that, we have been on top of many local stories that have either been completely ignored or taken up weeks later by other outlets.
Our coverage of the completion and opening of the Champlain Bridge was unprecedented, including the Lake Champlain Bridge Book, which is one of the best local works I have seen in a long time.
I was the only journalist at ELCS goalie Brock Marvin’s return to varsity soccer after his heart transplant surgery. On that note, as reporters, we attended far more regular season fall, winter and spring sports than anyone else.
When it came to Willsboro native Sophie Clarke being on the CBS show “Survivor,” the only place to report on the story before us was WCAX-TV, and they have a little bit of an inside edge being the CBS affiliate. We also had weekly reports following Clarke, an interview with her and her father, and followed the story all the way through her homecoming in Willsboro, something that no one else did. There are countless other examples, but I only have one column.
This past year, we have also received a lot of response to our stories. We have had people ask us how dare we cover this or put this name in the paper or report on a topic. In the same breath, we have had people say that they found those stories extremely interesting. For our re-vamped editorial page, we have been called bot bleeding heart liberals and staunch conservatives. You know what that all means together? We’re doing our jobs well.
I have seen no other entity receive so much reaction — positive or negative — about their product, and I welcome it all. If someone wants to say good job, that’s fine. If someone wants to say they don’t like what we’re doing, that’s great to. But what we are doing is something that either way, people care about, and that is the key.
What I am trying to say is, the Valley News, and Denton Publications as a whole, is a leader in local news and journalism. With video and photo galleries, everyone else has followed that lead. If you see us say we had something first on our website, it’s because we had it first, period, not because we put it on our site hours after other news outlets but before it went into the paper.
With that said, I know more than anyone that pride cometh before the fall. We have had way more than our share of mistakes, but never in accuracy or deciding on what goes into our publications. I’ll be more than sorry for mis-identifying a person in a picture or spelling a name wrong, but there is nothing that we have covered this year where I feel that we went out-of-bounds.
In the same token, we can’t do this alone, and the reason that this has gone so well is because of those who call in, visit thevalleynews.org and visit our Facebook Page (Valley News) with suggestions and ideas for stories. Keep them coming in, and thank you.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at the Valley News Facebook Page, or on Twitter @ValleyNewsAdk.