Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief
If you follow Valley Sentinel on social media, over the last few weeks you’ve seen that we have been struggling with inconsistencies and missteps with the printing company that prints the paper each week.
If you don’t follow us on social media, you might have noticed Valley Sentinel is hitting newsstands or your doorstep a little later than usual.
If you’re someone who hasn’t seen or noticed anything different, I’ll fill you in. For the last two or three weeks, we’ve encountered pretty much every frustration and difficulty you can when putting together a paper each week. We’ve had issues with technology (Adobe is a wonder, but not always wonderful), we’ve had miscommunications between different areas of our press team, we’ve had incorrect prints and reprints.
Our editors have spent almost the same amount of time dealing with problem after problem, pull-out-your-hair frustrations and endless phone calls to customer service as we have in journalism and the community. The last few weeks have been nearly all consuming with frustrations and “Well, it’s out of our hands” or “It is what is” sayings through the blood, sweat and an abundance of tears.
At the very least, these past few weeks have exposed some weaknesses, both within Valley Sentinel and personally. Personally, these challenges have hit exposed nerves we didn’t know existed, they’ve tested us and in some cases we failed.
These weeks have not been kind to the mental or physical health of our editors and our volunteers. To put it bluntly, we all need a damn vacation. We need to heal, physically and mentally. We need to be all consumed with care for ourselves, not with frustrations. However, masochist and journalist are nearly synonymous, and we’ve all for our own reasons chosen to be here and we don’t get a vacation—at least not in the traditional sense. We don’t get to skip a week.
We’ve seen some turbulence and differences in the last few weeks and that period of change is probably going to continue for Valley Sentinel. Our editors and volunteers need personal time to heal and grow, and we as a publication need to heal and grow with them to keep us thriving, not just surviving.
The personal healing of our editors will come with time and a learned balance between life and work, and in that time, we as an organization can take some small steps and make some small changes for a little while until that happens, that’s as close to PTO as independent journalists get.
In terms of the Valley Sentinel as a whole, to heal and grow we have some ready-to-go, workable solutions to implement to give our crew the break we need. Typically we strive to be 12 to 16 pages full of content, in the coming weeks we’ll be focusing on eight packed pages of content. The reasoning for this involves a few different things, we hand pick or personally write everything you see on each page of the paper each week, curation and writing like that takes quite some time and creative energy. Each page and it’s elements are also designed by one or two individuals each week who volunteer their time, so reducing the page number each week will include much less stress on our already overworked designers.
We’re also looking to expand! From the beginning and to this day still, we’re all volunteers. We’re all here for our own separate reasons, whatever they may be, but we don’t get paid to do it. Any money Valley Sentinel gets is directly invested back into the paper. With that said, the work isn’t any less just because of that and we need our group of intelligent, creative and passionate people to grow!
So, we’re officially “hiring”! We’re looking for anyone and everyone who has interest and experience in writing, advertising, marketing, community relations, audio production to join our team! Money? We have none, but we’re a fun group of people to work with and while this is overwhelming a lot of the time, it’s also really rewarding. (Also, if you’re a college student and your university allows credit for internships, we can make that happen!)
So please, please reach out if yourself or someone you know is interested, we’d love to meet you!
While we’ve taken a couple L’s in the last few weeks, we’ve also seen a lot of W’s. We’ve released our first ever Best of the River Valley, only nine months into our existence and you guys CAME OUT for that. We had hundreds of readers and community members vote and choose their favorites. It’s celebrating those little wins that’s part of the personal healing process, so thank you to everyone who participated.
At our heart, we’re still a brand new, small business and what we’ve been dealing with are frustrations that come with the small business life. Valley Sentinel was started out of passion and as a passion project, but even passion needs to rest.
If you need me, I’ll be writing stories from a tube on the river trying to balance life and work.