In December, Sharon McGowan, my Jewish soul sister, gave me the best Christmas gift ever: She handed me the keys to the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service as she prepared to retire.
I won’t lie: Some days I want to hand NNS right back to her.
The days are long. The demands unending. And the struggle is real.
But then I think about our mission, and you. And I am re-energized.
NNS exists to celebrate the community. We love to tell your stories — the stories of ordinary folks who do extraordinary things. We know there are problems in the neighborhoods we serve. You know this as well. Those are well-covered by other media outlets
But we intentionally focus our reporting on making sure that the narrative of our neighborhoods also includes the many positive things occurring.
That doesn’t mean we will shy away from controversy and calling folks out when needed, but as an evidence-based news organization, we feel it is important to give you the complete truth. We want to be the mirror for our communities. That means we report the good as much as the bad.
We have a lot going on in our newsroom that I will share with you on a regular basis. Our goal is to have a two-way relationship and to always be transparent.
At NNS, we know we are in the relationship business. We want to know you and for you to know us. One way we are doing this is by being more visible at your events. The staff had a great time seeing your faces at Washington and Mitchell parks last month. You’ll see us out and about more.
It is important for you to know that NNS is a local nonprofit newsroom. We have six paid part-timers, whose salaries come from Milwaukee’s generous philanthropic community and individual donors, and a wonderful volunteer cohort of student interns and dedicated community volunteers who help tell your stories. Marquette University, where NNS is housed and where I serve on the faculty of the Diederich College of Communication, pays my salary. The university plays no role in our editorial decisions and the content on our site does not necessarily reflect the views of Marquette University.
Another way we are engaging with you is through our content. We are always trying to make sure our stories are stories you want to read and need to read. Ana Martinez-Ortiz is our first community engagement reporter is responsible for writing stories that help you navigate your life as well as making sure you know the fun things that are happening in your neighborhoods.
Early in my tenure, several of our long-time staff members were given promotions to honor their service to you. Adam Carr and Dwayne Burtin were promoted to deputy editors; and Edgar Mendez and Andrea Waxman were elevated to senior staff writers.
They, and the rest of the NNS team, care greatly about our mission. I count it a blessing that they’ve all worked here since near the beginning of NNS some eight years ago. We have one of the most stable newsrooms in the country.
And we definitely have the best readers.
Until next time, proceed until apprehended.
About Ron Smith
Ron became editor of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service on Feb. 1. He believes in doing great journalism, appreciating the great NNS team that does it and “proceeding until apprehended.” You can email him or call him at (414) 378-1767.
How to reach us: Email is highly effective. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our newsroom phone number is (414) 604-6397.
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