It is always nice to get away and see a place one has never seen before. This last week several of us from the paper attended a conference in Palm Springs, Calif. With 75 degree weather and mostly sunny skies, who would complain?
For me, though, it was an extra treat because I grew up in the Southwest, in New Mexico, and southern California has the same feel. There is a quality to the air that is distinctively Southwestern: dry, crisp, wafting, and with a smell of mesquite off in the distance.
And no one can confuse the vistas there with anywhere else in the world. The Rocky Mountains reach out and grab our attention on all sides.
My wife, Patricia, and I went to an overlook of a vast valley below; off on the left, close and sharp enough to reach out and touch, we could see the Salton Sea. The landmark placard in front of us told us that it was 35 miles away.
If all of this ambiance did not make me feel as thought I had returned to my roots, the food certainly did. Having grown up on hot, spicy food, I have never lost my taste for it.
As I mentioned, we were there to attend a newspaper conference, and as I said in a recent column, it is a thrilling time to be in the newspaper profession – because it is in such a state of change.
In the last 50 years, I have seen the “process” of producing a newspaper change, but not the profession itself. In the past, for the most part, the newspaper editors gathered what they thought was important, and printed it on newspaper.
This is increasingly not the case. Now, more and more people are communicating with themselves. Further, less and less of communication is finding its way onto newsprint, and more and more onto the web.
These topics were a consuming focus of the conference.
Neither do we think in terms of only readers. As I mentioned in a January column, we have now built a sound studio in the Herald building and last week marked the beginning of our weekly audio (or Web radio) podcast on our Web site.
At the conference, experts who study emerging trends globally told us that in most cases, newspaper Web sites are far and away the dominant local Web sites. This is giving community newspapers a lot more wind under their wings, enabling them over time to serve readers, listeners and even viewers.
It was encouraging to sit with colleagues and share thoughts and experiences; it is also the stuff of life to return home and meet with co-workers and fit all the pieces of this emerging puzzle together.
Art Hall, publisher
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