Guest Columnists

Strengthening connections to the community

Zack Kucharski, Director/Editor of The Gazette, photographed in the studio in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Zack Kucharski, Director/Editor of The Gazette, photographed in the studio in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

We're taking a good deal of space in today's paper to announce some changes to The Gazette. Why? We feel these changes will help increase transparency and are critical as we work to move forward.

Media organizations everywhere have been experimenting with ways to connect their audience and tell stories in new ways. The Gazette is no exception. In some of our experimenting with roles and responsibilities, how to relay feedback or who was responsible for what was sometimes blurry. While it's critical to examine the ways in which we are going about reporting on our community, having roles the public clearly understands is important too.

As editor, I work across the sections of the newspaper, online and mobile experiences, on how and why we cover various topics and work with how we present information to the audience. While I'm not involved in the decision-making or editing of every individual story, I am ultimately responsible for maintaining the trust our brand enjoys in the community and the content we create. As Jim, our publisher, noted in his column, everything we do begins with trust.

The changes we're making to the editorial board will help us increase collaboration between our news and opinion teams which will strengthen our collective voice. It will also increase the timely flow of information across the organization.

Context and helping understand current state are some of the values that I'll bring to the editorial board. I've been a part of The Gazette newsroom for nearly 15 years. I spent several years working as a reporter in our Iowa City office and then transitioned to more behind the scenes editing roles with data, working with our reporting team and as a news editor. It's a true privilege to lead the team of talented reporters, editors and designers that work together to produce The Gazette each day.

We will be working in coming weeks on a variety of initiatives aimed at strengthening connections to the community. These efforts will take many forms — from visits with key sources about how we're doing and storylines we may not have been covering to bring more perspectives together in meaningful ways.

We're also looking to increase in-person interactions through an array of events. Some events like Pints and Politics have a fun feel, while others like Learning Forward are meant to open dialogue and explore serious or complex issues facing communities and our region. These discussions, which can at times be difficult, will carry a solution focus. Solutions-focused efforts should be increasingly evident in our reporting in coming months.

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We're also close on some product changes as well. We are planning to expand our Sunday product this fall to again increase the amount of local news we are able to deliver. But adding pages isn't the only way we can increase local content. We're working to increase the amount of local content in some of our existing space. We're about to launch a content survey which I expect will help us determine which storylines are most important to tell.

The pace of change in the industry, our communities and almost every area of life makes this an exciting time to work in a news organization. Thank you for reading and your continued support and please don't hesitate to share ideas with us. We are excited about the path that lies ahead.

• Zack Kucharski is executive editor of The Gazette. Comments: Zack.Kucharski@sourcemedia.net

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

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Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.