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Hello, and welcome to the sixth edition of “Newsletter from the Newsroom.” 

Here’s what editors were proud of in August. Happy reading!

—Bridget Higdon, Vermont managing editor 

One of the highlights for the month of August at the Ripon Commonwealth Press/Express which also was our biggest traffic generator, was our coverage on a vacant K-Mart building.

It all started when I received an email from our ad department Monday afternoon about a late official notice notifying residents of a public hearing to consider a conditional use permit for a building at 1200 West Fond du Lac Street. My reporter, Joe Schulz, Googled the address and discovered it was the vacant K-Mart building, which has been vacant since 2019. Joe called the city and the developer and wrote a well-read story with the help of the official notice. 

He then followed up two issues later with another well-read story. The two stories generated 11,332 clicks and kept the public up to date. This is just another example of how stories can pop up from anywhere.

—Jonathan Bailey, editor

Ahead of Vermont’s primaries on Aug. 3, our newsroom made the decision to profile not only the local candidates running in our coverage area, but the statewide and federal ones too. All of this coverage lives on a special page on our website: samessenger.com/elections_2022

I am proud of the profiles I wrote about the leading women in the Democratic race for Vermont’s lone U.S. Representative: Molly Gray and Becca Balint. I met them both in-person and established connections that I hope will benefit the paper for the long-run.

During these interviews, candidate after candidate told me the state is in the midst of a “child care crisis.” Which got me thinking: what does that really mean? And if so, how bad is it? 

I struck out to answer those questions by engaging with as much of the community as I could. To do so, I created a quick, 6-question Google Form that was shared to our website and to social media multiple times. In 10 days, I received 45 responses, a number I was happy with. The survey became the foundation for the story, for which I also interviewed child care providers, parents and educators.

—Bridget Higdon, editor

At the Cannon Falls Beacon, Melissa Thorud interviewed a local resident who has made it his personal mission to clean and maintain the graves of veterans, some dating back to the Civil War. The man, Bill Nelson, has a vision of creating an adopt-a-grave program.

He sent Melissa’s article to a statewide veterans agency. They liked the article and invited Nelson to come speak about his vision. Now the program may roll out through the state of Minnesota.

—Jim Johnson, editor

This month I’d like to talk about something we haven’t finished yet for this year but are currently working on at the Tri-County News — our annual Guardians section. I’ve included the cover from a few years ago as it is a photo I took during a controlled practice. Sometimes we use photos on the cover of Guardians which we took and sometimes they are stock photos, but this was one I really liked. Wish we could always be so lucky, right?

But what’s really important here is the Guardians section itself. In this section, we picture every local volunteer firefighter, first responder and ambulance personnel—several hundred men and women in our area—along with a little bio for each. That sounds like a big job and it was the first year—which was more than 20 years ago—but since then it has been more of a manageable updating of photos, new people, etc.

We’ve been doing this section for well over 20 years around Fire Prevention Week in early October and the crazy thing is that it is as successful now as it ever has been. It is hard for local businesses to say “no” to recognizing volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel. We also offer a small continuing education scholarship to one or two firefighters/responders each year in conjunction with this section. For us, this section has been an annual $13K-plus year in and year out.  Here is last year’s Guardian’s section. 

—Mark Sherry, editor

SHEBOYGAN

On Aug. 15, The Sheboygan Sun and TMJ4, the Milwaukee-based NBC television affiliate, launched a partnership that includes a weekly live tv segment. In the weekly segment, I share with the greater Milwaukee area some of the biggest headlines out of Sheboygan, directing people all back to our website for full stories and additional coverage.

We are also beginning to work closely with the TMJ4 team to share content and hope to begin working on multimedia pieces together, which will add a whole new level to our story-telling in Sheboygan. We also saw a rapid increase in our users for August (about 5,000 more than we’ve been averaging), and although we can’t correlate it back directly to the TMJ4 exposure, I’ve already heard the community talking about how it’s getting not only Sheboygan’s name out there, but the Sun’s. You can see our debut segment here.

MADISON

Much like our other markets, the return of high school football was a big headline in the Madison area, and our sports and design team put together really nice season previews in each of the three weekly publications. The coverage included your average team preview stories and athlete highlight stories, but our sports team of Mark Nesbitt and Jack Miller really elevated the content with games and players to watch, while also folding in a normal sports section and other sport previews. The team also worked with designer Brad Allen to create some of the best print layouts we’ve produced in the last year, as you can see with photos from the Aug. 18 edition of the Verona Press.

—Tara Jones, editor

This past month in Las Vegas, we have been focused heavily on keeping the public informed about what is going on with our water crisis in the city, which has made national headlines recently as we have been dealing with less than 30 days of treatable water as a result of the wildfires of this past spring. We are proud of the public service we have been providing during this. One of our front pages was heavily dedicated to this topic (see below). We were also able to speak to U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan in August, and got a great story out of that conversation. 

A big shout out also goes out to our sports editor Gabe Myers, who has jumped right back into local sports coverage as the new school year begins. He has been producing timely coverage of games for our website, game previews for all local teams in the print editions, multiple feature stories every week on relevant sports figures in the community, and has done a great job writing a weekly column that adds a great element to his section. Below are a couple of his best stories/columns from this month:

—Phil Scherer, editor

Our August issue of CITYSunTimes featured a wonderful cover story about a unique Cowboy Church in Cave Creek. 

In August for Queen Creek Sun Times our Arizona State intern wrote this nice story about the prep football season starting again in September and how the Eastmark team has advanced since the high school opened four years ago and were getting ready to travel for a special pre-season game Aug. 20 in Las Vegas, N.M. 

Then we had this story I did, with link to my fentanyl crisis story about a local teen earlier this year who died from overdose, her mom started this event last year and this was the second year. Featured speaker and parent advocate Misty Terrigino is a San Tan Valley resident featured by Queen Creek Sun Times. Read her story here.

Also, the Town of Queen Creek lost another member of its history with the passing of Frances Brandon-Pickett. This news comes just over a month after the loss of Mayor Gail Barney on June 22. Read my story honoring her.  

—Kelly Mixer, editor

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you in October.