Pinedale Roundup needs a staff

By Sue Sommers, Pinedale
Posted 4/11/24

Dear Rob Mortimore, Wyoming Newspapers Inc., and News Media Corporation,

I see that the slogan of News Media Corporation, your parent company, is “The Voice of Small Town America.” …

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Pinedale Roundup needs a staff


Dear Rob Mortimore, Wyoming Newspapers Inc., and News Media Corporation,

I see that the slogan of News Media Corporation, your parent company, is “The Voice of Small Town America.” Today I am one of those voices, and I’m talking to you.

Since the on-site staff at the Pinedale Roundup, a storied paper with a 120-year track record, was cut to a single reporter/editor/production manager, I no longer find articles covering town council, county commission, school board and other meetings conducted by elected and appointed officials in Sublette County. This is no surprise. No county-wide newspaper can be sustained by a lone person on-site, I don't care how hard that person works or how many mechanical and sales functions are outsourced. Having worked at the Roundup as well as a rival paper for several years in the 1990s and again in 2001-2002, I've seen what decent community news requires.

So I feel compelled to explain to you why not covering public meetings undermines our communities, and why reporters are necessary.

For generations, Sublette County residents have relied on trained journalists (plural) to show up and report back from some of the many public meetings that occur routinely in our towns and county. The reporters were almost always young and inexperienced, but they learned and became better - even great. Where are those reporters now, and why can't Wyoming Newspapers Inc. afford to hire and hang onto them, even for a while? Then maybe our editor could, I don't know, concentrate on editing, or attending and reporting on a couple of those public meetings, instead of writing and building the entire newspaper every week.

Public meetings are about local issues that affect our lives more immediately than anything at the state or federal level. News coverage of those meetings is where we learn what the issues are, their context, and what they mean. Meeting minutes alone are not enough. Of course, there's no substitute for attending a meeting in person, or speaking with someone in the courthouse or town hall, but few of us can make time to do that unless it's a priority. We often decide whether it's a priority by what we see in the newspaper. 

Picture this: without consistent, transparent coverage of public meetings, how will our local decision-makers be held accountable? How will we gain informed opinions to bring to the voting booth this year? Where will our youth, or future political candidates, first become inspired to serve in local government? How will we grasp the work of the volunteer boards that apply for town and county funds during commission budget meetings? Who among us will think about earning a seat on those volunteer boards? And speaking of the county budget - one of the most robust in the state, due to our mineral wealth - will any one of our 9,000 citizens care what that supports (or doesn't)?

In short, without trained journalists (plural) covering our public meetings, the civic fabric of our Small Town community will decay. We need to know much more than who got an award and which sports teams won last week, which is admittedly all a one-woman band of a newspaper office can cover.

I recognize that for many families, awards and sports might be the most interesting parts of the paper. But we should not have to choose between cheering for the kids and critical reporting on our key local government entities. Wyoming Newspapers Inc. needs to staff the Pinedale Roundup with enough reporters to cover the essentials or stop calling the Roundup a newspaper and itself a newspaper publisher.


Sue Sommers, Pinedale

letter to the editor, opinion, Pinedale Roundup, newspapers, News Media Corporation, Wyoming Newspapers Inc, staffing issues, Pinedale, Sublette County, community journalism, small town newspapers