Column: New year has rough, but inspiring, start

Good-bye, January, you’ve been a difficult month. I won’t be sorry you’re gone.

You, January, so early in the new year, have brought to us at the Valley Record a new set of challenges, and loss. I’m still working on all of them.

Challenges include: How to fairly cover and represent, post-Presidential election, the victorious, but quiet minority in this community of outspoken opponents who found their voices long ago and use them often; How to educate people, without condescension or defensiveness, about the intended purpose of this page that you’re reading, the Opinion page, and its companion, Letters to the Editor — as forums for everyone to share their opinions, not articles of facts; How to keep up with the local impacts of national actions that are changing our political climate daily, sometimes hourly, since Jan. 20.

What I hold against this month most, though, is the loss. We learned about two weeks ago that four community newspapers, part of the Issaquah Press Group, will be closing down at the end of February, and that really hurt.

To be clear, the Record is not in that group. We are still open and still, just like the staff at those four closing papers, working in your communities, to bring you the stories that you want to read and, maybe more importantly, the stories you should read.

These four papers were, like the Record, staffed by people committed to this struggling industry. They were also competitors to the Record and our sister publications in their markets, but it was the right kind of competition, the kind that makes everyone work harder, to do better, to be better. Like a runner who trains against a clock but races against people, we are improved by competition, and that benefits our readers. Every time a news organization closes, it leaves a gap.

As January comes to a close, though, I will admit I have found a few things to appreciate about it. People are speaking up about their beliefs, and our leaders are stepping up to protect them — a couple have even bet their jobs on it, and lost. Whatever their political leanings, ordinary citizens are becoming grass roots activists. People are paying attention and speaking up, which, if you think back to the founding of this country, is the only job we have all been given as citizens.

It’s inspiring. It’s what history will remember about this year, and this month.

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