One of the best parts of working at the newspaper is drop-in visits from locals. People come in the office all the time to renew their subscription and lament about anything from speeding vehicles to unsolved murders to sewer backing up in their homes when it rains.
Even better, sometimes people drop in to visit, catch up, and, more often than not, catch me up on local happenings. Last week, former editor Aaron Williams and his wife Johana Williams, featured in our newest cooking column, dropped in for a visit bearing homemade salsa. Talk about job perks.
We chatted about the newspaper, chuckling about how the only thing that seems to change around the office is what’s printed in the paper - and at times, even that doesn’t change much. Naturally, we talked about the direction of the paper and plans for the future. I was nearly shouting out of excitement, talking about incorporating video and doing more in-depth reporting.
I asked him something I’ve asked myself since I began working here - ‘what comes first - the revenue we need to expand or more reporters?’
Aaron didn’t skip a beat.
“As long as you remember that this newspaper serves the people of West Baton Rouge, it will never falter.”
That’s been the focus of this operation for over 100 years and we look forward to keeping our eyes set on serving West Baton Rouge for another 100. We aren’t a massive news station with dozens of employees, and we haven’t been made into a verb for our investigative reporting. However, I wouldn’t mind if people said they got “West Side Journal’d” and it meant something positive, like a boom in business following a Business Spotlight or an influx of donations for a community program following reporting on it.
For example, “did y’all see that line at the boudin place?! Man, they got West Side Journal’d!” Maybe it’s a shot in the dark, but I’ll leave the widespread use up to y’all now.
West Baton Rouge is steadily growing, and expectations for fast news have grown astronomically since the dawn of the internet, far outpacing the desire for a weekly publication. We may not have a state-of-the-art presentation, but we strive to provide meaningful, West Baton Rouge-centric news to your mailbox, grocery store or phone every week.
We’re making strides to serve you better, like the new website we launched in 2018, which won first place in Best Over-all Website for our division by the Louisiana Press Association.
We watch news videos and scroll through Facebook reading headlines as much as you but are firm believers that the news is better when read, dissected and understood. We aren’t in the entertainment industry. We’re in the news business. We are a local newspaper with a measly but mighty crew that loves West Baton Rouge and all of the people here.
While we are still excited about opportunities to present the news in a more modern fashion, the newspaper will still be in rack stands, and I will always show up to meetings with a notepad and pen.
We aren’t fancy. Some may even say a bit behind the times, but good service never goes out of style, and that’s what we strive to provide.
This week, we hope you all enjoy the 2020 Grad Tab featuring local graduates and stories of their triumphs. A high school diploma is a common accomplishment, but that does not make it easy, and we are thrilled to put the spotlight on you, Class of 2020. You deserve all of the air hugs, shouts of congratulations and wrist-tiring waves you received at graduation Saturday, and even more.
I hope you know by now to call the office if you can’t find a copy.