Forty two years ago if you would have asked me what I thought the state of newspapers might be — my answer would have been far different than what it is today.
As a journalist, I've had the opportunity to watch many of the fascinating changes in our industry. When I started working at my first newspaper there were no fax machines, computers, emails, mobile phones or social media. I was given a typewriter, a phone and a notepad. We didn't wait for the news to come to us, we went out and got it. We asked questions and pounded the pavement to pursue stories our readers wanted. The process to publish a newspaper was intense and met with extremely strict deadlines. Miss the deadline and you'd have an editor standing by your desk yelling some rather unsavory language.
Technology has changed our business. Gone are the days when stories were typed on a manual typewriter then handed off to the composing room to retype into cold type. The columns of type were then waxed on the back and placed on the layout paper. That paper was later captured on film by a large camera in the press room. The large negative was burned into plates and placed on the printing press.
The process to get the newspaper in the hands of our readers was a bit daunting. Miss any part of the process and it could mean disaster. Many old-timers may still recall when the newspaper was printed right here in Socorro. Today, your El Defensor Chieftain is printed at the Albuquerque Journal. We're proud of our press and the products they print for us, our sister publications and many other commercial customers in New Mexico.
One thing remains certain — El Defensor Chieftain will strive to report on community news whether it's in print, online as well as other forms of digital media. With all the skeptics in today's world, your local newspaper remains dedicated to reporting local news of our area first before we publish news from around New Mexico. Socorro County remains our first priority, but that doesn't mean we won't report on other important news happening in the areas were our readers purchase our products. We also strive for fair and accurate reporting.
Has El Defensor Chieftain made mistakes during the past 152 years? I'm certain we have, but we have owned up to them. We also will not print fake news in print, online or on social media. What purpose would that serve? If there is an issue that comes up we will work to get the answers before we print the story or post it to our web site.
Each week, I count the number of local stories we publish in each issue. Do you realize that we published almost 10,000 local news stories in 2019 - that includes all the new stories published in our special publications. So when we say we are dedicated to local stories — we mean it. A strong community newspaper is built on various opinions, ideas and values. It's not for the faint of heart. Over the years, those opinions, ideas and values have served us well.
Today, we have different types of readers: those who love the print publication in their hands; those who read the stories online; and, finally, those who read information on their mobile devices. So here's the deal: I don't care how you read our product. Just know that every day our staff is working hard to provide the best possible news coverage in our community. Whether that person writes news or sports, sells advertising, works in in our front office with circulation and accounting issues, or delivers your newspaper — every individual at El Defensor Chieftain is making a difference in our community.
We love what we do — and that's what has made your local newspaper successful for the past 152 years and more.