Since the New Year, the staff of the Valley Advocate, under the direction of Daily Hampshire Gazette publisher Jim Foudy, has spent hundreds of hours reviewing every aspect of its editorial mission and process. With the newspaper’s 40th birthday coming this fall, it seemed an appropriate time to freshen things up with a new look and a variety of new features. The issue you hold in your hands is the result of that effort.
Throughout our long discussions, despite some level of disagreement over certain matters of design, an overarching set of values found unanimous approval within the Advocate staff: a commitment to a strong mix of regional news, commentary and investigative reporting, as well as lively, up-to-date and forward-looking arts and entertainment coverage.
Certainly one of our objectives in redesigning the paper was to make better use of space—a serious necessity today for all print publications, which have generally seen reductions in the number of pages published with the rise of the Internet. By using a variety of storytelling formats, including briefs and our new Splash page, we hope to provide more local stories, packing more useful and engaging information into each issue.
Since it was founded as an independently owned and operated alternative newspaper in 1973, the Advocate has viewed its mission as not only to speak truth to power—a responsibility we still happily accept—but to provide an open forum in which readers can do the same thing. To enhance our letters section and provide a wider range of opinion, we are actively recruiting guest columnists and other voices to reflect the broad range of viewpoints in the Valley. (Adjacent to this column, you will find a guest column by Matt Rigney, author of In Pursuit of Giants: One Man’s Global Search for the Last of the Great Fish.)
Just as we’ve redesigned our news and opinion sections to accommodate a greater number and variety of stories, the new opening page of our arts and entertainment section was created to present highlights of the week, adding more short previews of coming events. We will continue to refresh our arts, entertainment and calendar coverage to make its appeal as broad as possible.
A newspaper or magazine is always a work in progress, and so our efforts to stay fresh and relevant will continue. In the same regard, we have begun to turn our attention to our website, where we are working on new features, including an app for mobile devices that will put the Advocate’s popular events listings, arts coverage, dining guides, news and other resources at your finger tips.
We are eager to hear what you think of the new Valley Advocate. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.•