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OZARKS COMMONS: Change is hard. That doesn't mean it's bad


Well, folks, in case you missed it last Saturday, big changes are afoot at the Quill.

We announced in an article, “The the times they are a-changin’: Quill to move to 6-day coverage, same day news,” published above the fold in the June 17 issue exactly what the headline states: We will be putting out news Mondays through Saturdays, on the same day it happens.

Sounds great, right? Most people I heard from thought so. The overwhelming majority of the feedback I personally received through emails and messages, texts and phone calls, and while out in the community, was supportive, albeit sometimes with questions and concerns.

A handful of folks were quite upset to think they might be losing something, as illustrated in a letter from a Pomona resident published on this page.

Now, I get it. Change is hard. I really don’t like it. I’m a creature of habit, and I’ll admit, I prefer holding the paper in my hand, too. But… I’m excited about this change, and I’ll tell you why. Maybe you might agree with me, and maybe you won’t — there’s room for all of us here in these Commons.

The very first thing I’m excited about is our Saturday edition. I can’t wait to show you all what it’s going to look like.

It’s called the “West Plains Gazette” as a nod to the beloved magazine published by Russ Cochran a few decades ago, and yes, it will have reprinted content from those publications. It’s also a whole lot more than that.

We chose that name because the former Gazette was, in our opinion, a beautiful, meaningful celebration of community, a showcase of the people who live here and the history that makes us. And that’s the spirit we intend to honor with the new iteration.

Like our Wednesday paper, the new Gazette is going to be a publication filled with about two dozen pages of features and news you care about. And with its format, which will differ from the traditional and familiar format of the Wednesday edition, it is going to be eye-catching and colorful, relevant and timely, and a true celebration of community.

Worth noting, we believe our community is robust and includes more than just those who live in West Plains, but also residents of our surrounding areas, who come to West Plains to work, play and take care of necessary business — and who often cater to West Plains residents on weekend floats and hunting trips, visiting festivals and parks, and so much more.

Within the new Gazette’s pages, in addition to the content you’ve come to rely on and expect, there will be pages dedicated to need-to-know news specifically in West Plains, pages dedicated for news in specific surrounding communities, and special feature pages highlighting local unsung heroes and “everyday people.” And who will those people be? We don’t know yet. We’re waiting for you to tell us.

I have said this for a long, long time, and I maintain this is even more true now than ever: This is your newspaper. What we put in these pages is determined by you. You share your news tips, bring in your giant garden produce, show off your shiny classic cars, celebrate your kids’ accomplishments and parents’ anniversaries — and we relish it.

I know we might lose a few subscriptions over this change. I hope we don’t! I hope folks give us a chance to show how this new format will add value to their investment — because I truly believe it will, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. I wouldn’t be sitting here at all. And if we do lose a few subscriptions, I am confident we will recover quickly.

Because if I’ve learned anything over this past week of conversations with readers, it’s this: Folks here understand the critical role a newspaper plays in a community, and no one I’ve talked to wants to lose that. It is important for us as a news publication to talk about what’s happening at city council and school board meetings, to share public safety concerns, to do our best to stop harmful rumors from flying, and that’s what we are here for, and what we plan to be here for a long time to come.

I always end my columns the same way, but boy, do I mean it this time: If you have any thoughts at all, any questions about what I’ve written here or the changes that are coming, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call here at the office, 417-256-9191, or drop me a line at abbyh@wpdailyquill.net. My door is open to you.