Birth of Valley Sentinel, a welcoming

Honorary Editor Column

David Giffey, Honorary Editor


As a reader and writer I welcome another newspaper…Valley Sentinel.

Journalism has taken undeserved punishment for years. It’s time to place blame where we think it belongs, and then to move on. I blame impatience not only among readers, but also among owners, advertisers, the newspaper industry in general.

Here are some recent statistics: Close to 100 U.S. towns and cities, on average, suffered the loss of their newspapers each of the last 15 years. Depending on your personal choice, the demise of all those newspapers was due to 1) lost ads; 2) social media (such as Facebook); 3) greedy owners; 4) disinterest among readers; 5) your choice.

Yet here in Spring Green and the River Valley, the norm is reversed. A new newspaper is being born right now. It’s almost miraculous, and obviously challenging. Congratulations and wishes for good luck are in order for those who courageously are stepping forward with Valley Sentinel. 

My name is presently listed in the masthead. My title is “honorary editor.” It’s there because I support more, rather than fewer, newspapers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with only half the editorial board so far, so we haven’t had the chance to have a lengthy discussion to solidify goals and purposes. As with any editorial process and any publication, it’s unlikely I will agree with everything in the VS. But I am more than happy to welcome the new paper. 

Emilie Conlon – she’s listed as Editor – wrote recently: 

“I’m sure we must be viewed as misguided by some to start a publication in the middle of an on-going pandemic, but we can’t think of a better time to build and foster community and to come together to sustain and support the things that make our area special.”

What did she mean, exactly? We’ll see. I hope Valley Sentinel attracts gifted writers and inquisitive readers who look to its pages for news about politics, government, and more. Newspapers and journalists work hard to tell the truth as they see it. It’s difficult to tell the truth, and somewhat easier to ignore it.

Emilie also said, “This is a volunteer position for [me] and our entire team. We volunteer our time simply because we have been inspired by the River Valley….”

I think journalists should be paid, no matter how passionate they may be. Yet I know there have been times in the nearly 60 years I’ve worked as a journalist when the importance of getting paid took a back seat to the nature of the message. So be it. 

Some years ago, I wrote in a newspaper column: 

“Traditional community mirrors of the type offered by newspapers have been systematically shattered—as I see it—in a greedy rush to compartmentalize ‘we the people’ into packaged goods identified by zip code or income or gender or age or some other convenient measure, and to discourage us from standing up for what we feel in our hearts to be truly important, truly truthful.”

May Valley Sentinel shine as “…truly important, truly truthful.”

Editor’s Note (10/26/2020): David Giffey served in an honorary, advisory capacity as Valley Sentinel moved through its startup process, rather than being actively involved in day-to-day editorial. After moving past publishing our first edition, David decided to step down from our editorial board. David’s insight was invaluable and we would like to thank him for his help and support.