By David Gordon, associate editor
Chippewa Valley Post
There have been several recent developments at the CVPost that we’d like to bring to your attention.
First, we’re pleased to offer you the first of a new series of columns by Wil Taylor, chair of the UW-Eau Claire Biology department. You’ll find the first instalment of “Wil’s Words” under the new “CV Views” heading in the right-hand column of our home page and continuing on an inside website page.
Taylor also wrote the six-part “Deconstructing Darwin” series that was a mainstay of the Chippewa Valley Post’s early weeks, following our “soft launch” last February. This series, however, will be something quite different. . . a sometimes whimsical column that will focus on topics of interest to Wil and, we hope, to you.
You’ll note that there are a couple of questions posed at the end of Wil’s column, and we invite your feedback to him through e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please label the “Subject” line as “Wil’s Words,” to make sure that your response gets to him expeditiously.
We expect that “Wil’s Words” will be a continuing though irregular feature on our website, and we invite others who have a yen to write something similar for our “CV Views” section to get in touch and discuss this with us. We welcome thoughtful observations on topics that will be of interest to our readers, even if these are not always focused on specific developments in the Chippewa Valley.
Another development worth noting is that we’re currently discussing with Northern Spirit Radio several ways that our two organizations might collaborate, to our mutual benefit. As the saying goes, stay tuned for further details.
New Volunteers and New Series
Recent weeks have also brought couple of new volunteers aboard. Jim Oliver, a veteran of the daily newspaper business, has taken over some of the copy editing responsibilities and is a most welcome addition in that area. And Mike Hilger, a retired UW-Eau Claire English department faculty member and a member of the Altoona school board, will be writing about education in the Chippewa Valley.
Mike is working on a series that looks at seven Chippewa Valley school districts – their strengths, problems and opportunities – through the eyes of their superintendents. He will do the major part of that series, based on interviews with the superintendents, but since there would be a clear conflict of interest if he were to report on the Altoona school district, I’ll write that article with his assistance.
Speaking of series, we’ve now posted the third and final part of Jack Pladziewicz’s thoughtful and thought-provoking series on pensions and healthcare insurance in the public and private sectors. Jack (and we) would be very interested in your reactions to what he’s written, particularly the proposal that the state retirement system could be opened up to employers and employees in the private sector.
We’ve posted a link to a list of the sources that Jack used in researching this series, and we invite you to look it over. We hope you agree that Jack has drawn on sources spanning the ideological spectrum in an effort to explain some very complicated topics as thoroughly and as even-handedly as possible.
So far, the feedback to Jack has dealt with details of his proposals, but no one (yet) has directly attacked the concepts he’s laid out. If you have ideas or reactions that go in different directions, or have some ideas for improving what’s suggested in the series, please consider submitting your thoughts to the CVPost for publication. (Email us at email@example.com.)
We hope that these series and other in-depth looks at slices of Chippewa Valley life will help you “connect the dots” to form an overall picture of what’s good and what’s missing in regard to the quality of life our community.
Status Report on the Chippewa Valley Post
All that said, let me be completely candid about where the CVPost now stands. We’re still in the experimental, prototype stage rather than at the level we set out to reach. We can continue well into 2016 at this current level of activity, but that won’t get us to our goal of becoming a valued source of news, information and analysis that doesn’t appear elsewhere.
Doing that job right isn’t something that’s possible without having a reasonable budget to work with. That’s hardly news. But we haven’t yet reached that point.
By the end of 2015, we will have spent less than $15,000 on our operations as we launched and refined the prototype website you’re looking at now. We’ve projected that we can expand what we’re doing now to a level that begins to accomplish our goals, at a cost of about $40,000 a year. That would provide an “acceptable” news and information product but one that’s still short of what we’d like to provide for the Chippewa Valley.
An additional $15-20,000 would enable us to add several more paid part-time staffers to do such things as report more fully on what’s happening in the nonprofit sector or dig in depth into some important topics (for example, how the Affordable Care Act has affected health-related organizations in the Chippewa Valley).
Another service we’d like to provide, if staffing permits, is to maintain a web page where the many nonprofit organizations in the Chippewa Valley can post information they want to make available to you. We’ve also talked about creating and maintaining a community calendar focused heavily on activities in the nonprofit sector, but that requires either a committed volunteer or a paid part-time staff member.
If you think that these are the kinds of things that will help create a more informed and engaged community – and if that’s important to you – we need your support now rather than at some undefined time in the future. That support can be financial, but it can also involve your participation – as a community journalist or in a half dozen other roles where we need assistance. . . for example, developing our website further and maintaining it, soliciting underwriting and sponsorships from area businesses (or providing them, if you’re a business owner or decision-maker) and expanding and editing our “Upcoming Events” section so it provides more information about what’s going on here.
At rock bottom, we’re trying to report on issues that contribute to – or detract from – the Chippewa Valley’s quality of life. If you agree that we all will benefit from a population that’s more informed on these issues, please join us in this effort. Now! Not “next year.”
“Behind the Post” is a periodic column that’s intended to increase the transparency of the Chippewa Valley Post by providing information about how we operate and why we operate as we do. Your feedback is welcomed.