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My Turn: Learning curve, verse by verse

A bit of fanfare is expected when one takes the job of editor at a newspaper. One gleefully anticipates wishes of congratulations and good luck from colleagues, citizens and local dignitaries.

So it was with the eagerness of an NFL quarterback playing in his first Super Bowl that I retrieved my phone messages on my first day as editor of the Daily Press on Monday. The man’s voice on the first one began slowly, then picked up steam.

“Yes, Mr. Keck,” the man started, “I just wanted to congratulate you on your new job.”

Things were off to a nice start, I thought. Then he continued.

“I just wanted to tell you that I live in Adelanto and your newspaper carrier’s truck has a broken muffler. He comes here at three in the morning and wakes up the neighborhood. Maybe there’s something you could do about that.”

Talk about a reality check. It was the first of several since hearing from that gentleman.

One expects a learning curve when taking on a new job, and, believe me, becoming the editor of a newspaper is no different, even if they think they have a decent feel for a place after 13 years of living there. Yes, Wrightwood may be on the perimeter of the Victor Valley, but the values there seem to be in line with the rest of our communities.

I came into this job thinking primarily of giving our readers a local newspaper they could be proud of. That means top-notch reporting, focusing on everything that makes for good newspapers, including accuracy, fairness and balance. In my zeal to start those tasks I perhaps missed the most important part: Our dedicated, longtime readers.

I’m talking specifically about the decision Wednesday to remove the daily Bible verse from page 2 and run it once a week on our Religion page. I discussed the change with the staff and figured I was on firm footing with the decision. Unfortunately, I did not discuss it with our readers, the people most affected by the change.

They let me know in a hurry of their displeasure. We received more than 100 complaints before getting Matthew 6:8 into Saturday’s paper. For the decision to leave two days without verses I take responsibility and offer my apology. It was never my intent to offend anyone.

Our Valley has changed significantly, even in the relatively short time my wife, Lori, and I have lived in Wrightwood. There seems to be another light glowing each night when I look across the High Desert, a reminder of growth, progress, opportunities and challenges. We want the newspaper to stay on top of those changes. At the same time we don’t want to shun the people who made it what it is.

I look forward to a growing relationship with our readers, the people who really make the Daily Press family of newspapers great. I look forward to hearing your views, whatever they may be.

All of which reminds me that I have to follow up with the folks over in circulation about a truck’s bad muffler.


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