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Friday, May 21, 2010

Connection picking up readers, momentum

EDITORIAL

By Matt Brabb
Connection Editor

So how are we doing so far?

It’s been three months since the Mogollon Connection debuted in Lower Rim Country. No doubt many of you are surprised to hear that we’ve been in the Payson, Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, Young, and Tonto Basin locales for that long. You would also be surprised at how tough it is to get the word out when our paper is relegated to the bottom of the news stand,  generally just below last week’s copy of Baseball Weekly.

As recently as a few weeks ago, former Payson Mayor Bob Edwards had not yet seen a copy of the paper, despite the fact that he has contributed to it twice.

But we believe we have turned the corner. The word is out, and these days, if you haven’t picked up your copy of the Mogollon Connection by the weekend, it will be tough to find.

It’s a tricky business running a small community newspaper. The decisions about what to leave in and what to leave out are not easily made. There are always many more stories to tell than our limited space allows, to this point at least.

I think we’re on the right track though.

Our competition in this market has certainly taken notice. Their recent features on, among others, solar energy and local Rim Country music talent Candyce, bear witness to the fact that they have indeed taken to reading our paper.

Still, we are proud that our papers are moving off the racks with ever increasing speed. Letters to the editor are coming in, and in my (albeit subjective) opinion, we have reported in a succinct, objective manner on almost everything locally that has really needed to be reported on in the last three months.

I would have liked to have been able provide more information about the potential of an ASU satellite campus coming to Payson, but ASU officials have been somewhat tight-lipped on the subject. The last response I received from a representative from ASU about where negotiations currently stand was:

“The situation has remained unchanged for some time.  There is nothing new to report.”

Not exactly a wealth of information with which to write a story about.

My publisher promises we can have four more pages if just a few more advertisers come on board. That would be ideal; I would love to cover the local sports scene and be able to include all of our columnists every week.

One thing I’ve noticed during this, my first stint as the editor of a newspaper, is how differently various people perceive the editorial slant of the Mogollon Connection.  I’ve already been accused of being “bought and paid for” by a certain faction within the community. That was news to me. To this point, I can assure you, gentle reader, that the only checks I’ve received have been from this paper’s publisher.

But it is difficult. Despite appearances, there are very real divides within the political landscape of both Payson and Star Valley.

The water issue plays a major role of course. The direction that the various agencies that control water rights in Rim Country take truly does matter. Despite claims to the contrary, Rim Country residents will always need to be conscious of how they manage this most precious of resources.

Many of us take water for granted. We turn on the tap, and there it is, a seemingly endless supply. But for developers, town leaders, and business people, it is an extremely important matter. It is a very real limiting factor for growth. A great many people will profit, or fail to profit, depending on how much water eventually is made available to Rim Country.

I have also received some criticism regarding the fact that our letters to the editor have been too one sided from week to week. In the Connection’s defense, I can only say that to date we have printed every letter we have received. If you disagree with what you are reading, please write to us and express an alternative viewpoint. All comments regarding both local and national topics, when articulated within the bounds of good taste, are welcome. Please share your thoughts with us by writing to matthew@mogollonconnection.com.

We are, in every sense of the word a local, community-based paper. We will live and die by the support the community gives us. There is no large corporation in the background to back us up if times get tough.

Many people have expressed to me, as well as to the staff at the Mogollon Connection, that they are happy to have a second newspaper covering events in Rim Country. We hope so. And we hope to be able to do this for as long as the community will have us.

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