The Times continues to change

By Chuck Kajer

This week marks the third anniversary of my being let go by a former employer, which led directly to my return to The Times the following week. It was a combination of a bad economy and good timing that brought me back to The Times.

For those who may not know my background at the newspaper, I grew up in New Prague, graduating from high school in 1978. After a first career as a teacher and coach, I switched and began a second career in the newspaper business in 1988. I worked at the Le Sueur News-Herald and the Madelia Times-Messenger before returning home in 1990 as associate editor of The New Prague Times.

In 1999, after a little more than nine years, I moved on to Sun Newspapers in the Twin Cities, working as managing sports editor. I was one of two managing editors overseeing a staff of seven sports editors. As the economy started to stumble in the summer of 2001, we lost two members of our sports staff due to budget cuts. Having to tell someone - someone who had been doing a good job for me for two years and for the paper for several years before that - that they no longer had a job may have been the hardest thing I've ever done as a professional.

Then, six months later, I was on the other end of the chopping block. Two days later, at the Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention, I approached my former boss, Chuck Wann, asking him what he knew about an opening at a paper not too far from here. That meeting wound up lasting several hours, and led to my return here a week later as managing editor.

Now, three years later, I've found my role at the newspaper growing, as was intended. We've begun to make some small, subtle changes in the newspaper. A year ago, we made a commitment to cover not only New Prague, but also New Market and Lonsdale city news. We've worked to improve our coverage of people in the community, not just events. One change has been to include more feature stories in the paper, something in the past we always brushed off, saying we didn't have time for.

We've made some other changes. As we've discussed in this column before, we've added the Talkin' to the Times feature, which appears on this page. We've worked at becoming more consistent in how we cover stories, we've tried to change our sports coverage, so it becomes more than just playby-play account of how our local high school sports teams are doing. Last week's feature story on wrestler Travis Rutt is an example. We will still try to get you complete coverage on the local teams, but we are also keeping in mind that some of the games we are reporting on are a week old.

Next week, we're going to ask you, our readers, to help us pick a “Story of the Month” for January. We'll choose several of the top stories from the month and ask you to pick one as the Story of the Month. We'll follow up on each month’s top story next December in our year in review. Look for it on this page in next week's issue of The Times.

If there is something you think we can do to improve our coverage of the community, or if you have a story idea that you think would make a good feature, let us know. We've already got a list started and while not all the ideas will end up on these pages, we will give them consideration and pick the ones we think you, as readers, will be interested in.

If you have a story idea, call me at 952-758-4435 or email news@newpraguetimes.com.

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