WinCity News & Views was started by my good friend Chuck Witt and me last October, basically just to give us a platform for our writing. Chuck and I both used to write weekly opinion columns for The Winchester Sun. We both quit writing for the Sun in 2021 for various reasons, but by late fall, we were feeling the itch to write again.
In addition to that, we both felt there were voices in our community who were not being given an outlet. We wanted to get back to writing about matters of import to those people who were being shut out of the public conversation. So one Saturday morning, over coffee at a local restaurant, we decided to start a blog.
Soon word got out on social media about our nascent project. Three other current and former local newspaper writers contacted me about joining us. Before I really had time to process what was happening, we had launched WinCity News & Views and were actively promoting it in the community, both on social media and on local radio.
At first, the plan was to focus on opinion pieces along with curated news items culled from other sources. We never intended to do original “hard” news and we still don’t. We’re all unpaid volunteers — most with full-time jobs — and none of us have the time to do that kind of journalism and do it right. We soon decided to ditch the news part altogether, which leaves us with an embarrassingly misleading name.
We don’t sell ads or subscriptions and depend solely on donations to keep the lights on. Thanks to a small group of generous donors, we are able to pay the bills.
As more potential contributors began to contact us about being a part of this project, we began to go in new directions. We began to get pieces submitted to us with a heavy focus on the arts: photography, painting and drawing, poetry, and fiction. We quickly realized that there is a need for local artists and creators to exhibit their work in an electronic medium such as ours.
All this was wonderful, but WCN&V was becoming nothing like what we had originally envisioned. And we were fine with that – more than fine, in fact. We fully embraced the changes. But it seemed a bit like we were adrift, with no clear guiding principles upon which to rely.
I believe any strong organization needs a “North Star” – a sense of purpose and meaning for its work. That is not to say that we weren’t proud of what we had accomplished in so short a time, or of the content we had published. But we wanted to gather more smart people around us for better guidance because I also believe in the adage that a group of people is smarter than any one person.
So back in December, Chuck and I formed an advisory board to help provide that direction. Besides Chuck and me, that board consists of Randy Patrick, Sabrina Puckett, and recent addition Lashana Harney.
Randy and Lashana have strong backgrounds in journalism and are well-known names in our community. Sabrina is a long-time Winchester resident who is known as someone who has made it her life’s work – both professionally and as a volunteer – to help those who are most vulnerable in our community.
As a group, this board is helping to make our organization stronger and better attuned to our community.
Among the first orders of business for our new board was to take a step back and re-evaluate everything we are doing. We needed to find our North Star and take a long, hard look at what we are doing to make Winchester and Clark County a better place for all of its citizens. And we needed more voices in the room than just ours.
As a result of that, we reached out to our regular contributors and invited them to join the board members in a series of “visioning workshops.” For the last several weeks, we have been doing just that. Led by Lashana (who currently works in public relations and has strong skills in this kind of thing), we have been devoting a few hours on Saturdays to finding our mission, vision, and core values.
We are nearing completion of this process, at the end of which we will be “rebooting” our site. We will probably adopt a new name that better reflects our newly-defined principles and values. Along with this, there will be other changes – both visible and behind-the-scenes. I don’t know exactly when this will happen, but when it does, we intend to make a big splash with it.
Keep reading and following us to stay abreast of these exciting changes.