wanda-moeller-vice-president-advertisingI’m back in the saddle in Socorro.

Yes, you read that first line correctly.

A recent health scare had me rethinking how I wanted to spend my last couple of years before I officially retired from the world of newspapers.

My gracious boss at the Journal has allowed me to transfer back to Socorro and become the Vice-President of our community newspaper group, which involves overseeing both El Defensor Chieftain and the Valencia County News-Bulletin. My home base will be in Socorro.

I’m not completely over my health issues. I have another surgery scheduled for next year. None-the-less I am thrilled to be back in the community that welcomed me with open arms when I moved here from Iowa to New Mexico five years ago.
Living in a rural community isn’t something everyone wants to do. However, as a farmer’s daughter, I can’t help but love the wide-open spaces and the challenges facing our rural communities.

Believe it or not, I still believe we have lots of news to report in Socorro County. As the oldest weekly newspaper in New Mexico, we’re here to stay. I don’t care if you read us in print or online, your news is our news.

So don’t be shy in sharing your news with us. Whether it’s an achievement of your child or grandchildren; an announcement from your civic or church group; or a gripe you may have about something happening in our community or out in the county; please feel free to share it with me or a member of EDC’s staff. While we’re not all investigative journalists, we do care about the communities where we live.

I know many of you know me or have chatted with me in the past. The Chieftain’s door is open to anyone who wants to come in and chat or just stop by to say hello. Heck, we’ll even serve you up a warm cup of coffee.

Good journalism is based on knowing the community, knowing what’s important and relevant, knowing what matters to our readers and knowing how to tell the news in an engaging and thoughtful way.

I’ll admit, it’s much easier today for journalists to engage in the community than when I started my career in May of 1982. Today we have digital tools to help with that mission as well as getting out and about in the community, keeping an ear to the ground on problems, issues, and needs.

Printing the local news that matters to people makes a difference in our publication. Afterall, El Defensor Chieftain has been named the Best Small Newspaper in New Mexico for the past seven out of eight years.

Local news should answer the following questions for our readers:
1. Why is this news important?
2. Who will be affected and how?
3. What is the background, the context of the story?
4. Are the sources used in the story reliable?
5. Is the story based on a solid, good idea, or a pre-cooked premise?

When I’m teaching young reporters, I try to tell them to find their focus. Know the economic and social drivers of a community and cover them relentlessly.
Readers appreciate good journalism. Those same readers also appreciate the purpose of local journalism … to enrich the shared life of our community.

A former mentor of mine, Veda Ponikvar, once told me that if I was going to make it in the newspaper world, I would need three things: a wishbone; a backbone; and a funny bone. Without them, she said, you won’t survive.

I believe the key to success at any newspaper is planning, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and guts. By doing so, we help enrich the shared life of our communities.