Cut to the chase

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me get right to it – I’m the new guy.

BUT! I may be new to this publication and the Cave Creek/Carefree area, but I’m not new to Arizona, nor publishing and I don’t go hiking in flip-flops with an iPhone. I’m pretty good with horses, but I probably smoke and swear too much.

That pretty much covers it.

Not really. Historically, I’ve had the good fortune to work with and for many publications around the valley and across the country. I cut my teeth in the trade out here in the early 70s with the Apache Sentinel in Apache Junction and went on to work for many others, including the Mesa Tribune, Tempe Daily News, Scottsdale Progress, Deer Valley News, Paradise Valley News, Mobile Messenger, TV Guide, New Times and many other companies dependent on production, graphic design and/or journalism skills. Prior to my departure for points south and east after 22 years here, I was also a night production supervisor at ASU’s student publication, The State Press.

I recently returned to the Valley of Sun after 16 years as systems supervisor at The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s independent, student-run daily newspaper.

So, in short, I have credentials – and I’m back.

Please, hold your applause.

There are reasons I have fond memories of all the publications out here that I’ve mentioned: the independence of management, the mission statements and standards of journalism during those decades – before corporate mergers, bundling and feeding the beast took over, while the community flavor of local papers completely eroded away. Not so out here with The Sonoran News and I find that refreshing. I like it. In spite of what is happening to “mass media,” smaller communities are still successful newspaper markets.

The table is set. People are bombarded with world, national and state news, 24/7. It can be exhausting, when all a person wants to know is:

1. What’s going on in my neighborhood?

2. Anyone know where the Little League fields are?

3. How are the kids doing in school?

4. What specials are there at the grocery store?

5. What’s new with the local fire and police departments?

6. What live music is playing in town?

7. Any dinner specials?

8. What’s new with Parks and Rec.? AZ Game and Fish?

9. What are the hours at the library and/or museum?

10. …on and on

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are countless, serious issues that need to be addressed that affect us all. The role of watchdog in the news industry is a time-honored tradition that has doubled as a journalistic mission statement, particularly with regards to those in power. It can get heated — partisan, bi-partisan, conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, independent opinions flying all over the place. There is a place for that. It’s called the OPS page and there will be no stopping that train.

Keep in mind, though, if we run out of water, food, healthcare, housing, transportation and jobs…it won’t much matter what a person labels himself/herself. Pretty much the same for race, gender and religious affiliations.

In the meantime, there’s this news thing happening. You know, the information highway. That marriage between people making the news and people needing a trusted source to report it. There is this undeniable core to smaller markets that makes publishing a mutually beneficial experience. This is where I come in. I can and do write about most of the serious issues of the day, but that is not what this column is about. This is about me establishing local news sources, generating local letters and providing a service (information) to the community.

All those in favor, say Aye!”

So, to wrap this up, I will try to get around, do some “meet and greets,” but, essentially, all you have to do is contact me – if I can connect the dots, rest assured, I will.

Tom Owens is a former reporter, columnist, photojournalist, editor, publisher, author and cartoonist. He is a graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Contact him at: news@sonorannews.com

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