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Here’s how the York Daily Record plans to improve its service to the community in 2022

Randy Parker, Executive producer of the York Daily Record

"The City of York is the core of our coverage area. What happens here affects the entire county. And yet for a variety of reasons we have drifted away from the intense focus needed to understand and address the needs of the county seat. "

Randy ParkerYork Daily Record

As long as I’ve been a manager, which is longer than some on my staff have been alive, I have defined the role in simple terms — help everyone on your staff do the best work of their career. 

Recently, I met with each reporter and editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News to listen to their aspirations for the coming year. How can 2022 be the best year of their career? How can I and the rest of the newsroom help? 

The conversations inspired me. They reminded me that each of us is at a different point in our careers and each faces unique opportunities and challenges. We can support each other, learn from each other, guide each other. And at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own growth. 

I look ahead to 2022 with a combination of my personal goals, the goals of the USA TODAY Network, and the goals of the York Daily Record as an institution. 

 Today, I’d like to share with you some goals that are unique to the YDR and this community, and new for 2022. 

Make the most of what we have

Our biggest challenge is to make the best of the situation before us.

Our newsroom today has fewer reporters than when I started here in 1989. Our newsroom reached its largest size in 2004, when we had more than 90 names on payroll. Today we have fewer than 20. Advertising dollars that once funded local newsrooms have been swallowed up by online institutions such as Google and Facebook. 

That’s a fact that will not change. That’s our reality. 

To deal with that, we tell stories that are unique to this community and this region. We tell stories that have impact and help readers make better decisions and live better lives. 

We look forward, and we adapt, using technology to improve and speed up reporting. We partner with journalists throughout our parent company, Gannett, and with those working for other companies.  

2022 vision for City of York 

The City of York is the core of our coverage area. What happens here affects the entire county. And yet for a variety of reasons we have drifted away from the intense focus needed to understand and address the needs of the county seat. 

To better connect with people throughout the city, we plan to do the following:

Tell tales of the city

For several decades, reporter Mike Argento has told beautiful stories about amazing people throughout York County. In 2022, he will narrow his focus to the city and pursue an intimate series of profiles of individuals who make up the neighborhoods. He will illuminate the daily struggles, achievements, dreams, concerns, and barriers that affect our quality of life. This yearlong effort will put under-served communities in the spotlight through good times and bad.   

Pop-up newsrooms

We will set up temporary worksites in places that are off the beaten path. Reporters and editors will work from there for two- to four-week stretches.

These will be grass-roots locations, such as a community center, a church, maybe even a park. 

We will let the public know where and when these pop-up newsrooms will operate and invite you to come out to meet us and help us understand how we might better serve the community

Diversity advisory group

We will impanel a group of residents to guide our efforts to better serve marginalized communities. We always welcome such feedback, but we know we need to take overt steps to better include people who for years have felt ignored by or under-represented in local media. 

Look for details in the first quarter of the year if you would like to be a part of this. 

Staff training

At least once every two months we will find time to focus on how we can expand our coverage to truly include everyone. We will rely on fellow reporters and editors. We will rely on outside organizations such as The Poynter Institute for Media Studies and The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. 

And I hope we can involve local experts such as diversity and engagement leaders at local companies and municipalities. 

Diverse sources

Our everyday coverage needs to better reflect the entirety of our community. We need to include the voices of Black and brown people in more routine coverage, not just coverage about those communities. Are we talking with people of color for stories about transportation issues, holiday recipes and managing household finances? Or are we turning to them only when the subject matter is specifically about issues of race? Same goes for LGTBQ+ voices and for people with disabilities. And, quite frankly, the same goes for many conservative and rural members of our community who feel the media does not hear or reflect their concerns. 

To help make this possible, we will add to and make better use of a list of diverse sources that is shared by our entire staff. Please let us know if you, or someone you know, should be included in such a list. 

To hold ourselves accountable, we will audit the sources used in our stories at least once in 2022. This audit will meet standards set by the USA TODAY Network and the Poynter Institute, among others.  

Remain transparent

This column is designed specifically to hold ourselves accountable. I could have simply told myself or my staff that this is what I expect of the York Daily Record in 2022. 

By sharing this with you, I hope to ensure that we stay on target with each of these important goals. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these efforts and anything else we can do to make the most of 2022. 

Randy Parker is the executive editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, where he has worked since January 1989. You can reach him at rparker@ydr.com or 717-771-2012.

Disclaimer: The projects mentioned above are only for York County, other counties and newsrooms do not fall under this umbrella of projects.

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