Editorial on public engagement with paper

An editorial in response to coverage of the Kenny Hess/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert and negative public comments.

There was a lot of discussion on Facebook this past weekend over why the Kenny Hess/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert was not covered by The Free Press. Several locals jumped in on the conversation, and many individuals posted very nasty comments about The Free Press.

I’d like to use this editorial to clarify a few things. We did not avoid covering the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band because they didn’t put advertisements in the paper or because it’s not an out of town event. We have absolutely nothing against covering local bands, and would have jumped on the opportunity to cover this story. As a local newspaper, we work to cover local events, news, arts and entertainment and sports, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert would have been a great event to cover, as it was a well-attended local event that brought a significant amount of revenue to Fernie.

The majority of the time, the coverage in our arts section is in response to a personal invitation, although we often seek out arts stories as well. Everyone in the community is invited to generate a conversation with the newspaper, informing us of events to ensure those events receive proper coverage, but the fact of the matter is we have limited public engagement with our paper. It disheartens me to see people making complaints after the fact, when this issue could have been resolved simply by generating a conversation with The Free Press. We also welcome photo submissions for events we are unable to attend.

One of the comments also stated that if it is not a ski race or bike race, we won’t cover the event. That is incorrect information. When it comes to sports coverage, we again are willing to cover a wide variety of sporting events. This past summer, The Free Press covered everything from disc-golf tournaments, soccer and rugby to golf, endurocross, bowling and running. And yes, we also covered several bike races. Biking and skiing are beloved sporting activities in the Elk Valley and that is hard for anyone to deny. But we also worked to give other organized sports space in the paper and we’re always welcoming to new ideas.

The purpose of this editorial is not to come down on the individuals generating these types of negative social media conversations. My purpose is simply to invite you to generate a conversation with The Free Press in order to avoid this type of negative feedback.

I honestly believe all this negativity can be avoided by opening up our lines of communication. If you ever feel The Free Press has dropped the ball on a story, keep in mind that we always welcome submitted photos or stories.