Maggie McGuire [Courtesy photo]

The crisis in local journalism is, well, in all the papers these days. “Print is dead!” the headlines say. Thousands of newsrooms in small towns have closed over the past decade, leaving millions of people in our country without a reliable place to turn to for all kinds of information.

After all, a newspaper isn’t just a tool for transmitting information: it’s a crucial way to help celebrate and strengthen local communities. It’s a way for an entire area to have a common source on local politics, how the local basketball team is doing or announcements of births and deaths in the community.

The possible causes for the disappearance of local news have been examined in articles from the New York Times to The Economist, with many pointing to the rise of the internet as the culprit. Now that anyone can publish an opinion online, some say, what’s the purpose of more traditional journalism?

While many papers were hit hard by the sudden cultural shift to digital media, here at the Moab Sun News we welcome technology as a way to connect with our readers even more closely and an opportunity to go even deeper into the stories we cover.

In years past, newspapers and radio stations were the only places where people could get a sense of what was going on in their community. Now the popularity of social media and other outlets has given journalism another, deeper task. With everyone having access to breaking news through social media, reporters’ role is now often to place daily events and breaking news into a larger context and talk about what these issues really mean to the average citizen: to you.

It’s been almost six months since I took the role of managing editor over here at the Moab Sun News and one of my true pleasures in that time has been hearing directly from our readers about what they are curious, angry or passionate about. Listening to our community helps shape the questions we ask and the stories we investigate. We hear from people through social media, through emails and through letters to the editor and it’s a true joy to respond by researching issues that people care about to get clear, useful and fact-checked information that they can use.

When our readers wanted to know more about the city and county budget crisis this year, we brought questions straight from readers directly to the officials who could sit down and make sense of the numbers. When people wanted to know why a National Parks directive allowing street-legal OHVs only applied to Utah, we uncovered the roots of the controversy to talk about a decade-old state law. When we hear about a change in Utah’s beer laws, our first call is to local businesses who might be impacted rather than covering things exactly like they would in Salt Lake City.

We’re working hard to broaden the stories we cover as well, reaching out to other areas in our immediate region. After all, many of the challenges Grand County faces don’t stop at the county line but instead are shared by many rural communities. Taking a close look at San Juan, Emery County and even over the border onto the western slope helps us find examples of people working on solutions to problems we all have in common.

All too often, reporting relies on readily accessible public figures, solely because those people are easy to get a quick quote from. We want to go much deeper than that, to tell the stories of our residents – and to allow residents to tell their own stories in their own voices.

That’s why I’m so excited to make more and deeper connections to our readers in the new year, as every piece of feedback helps us shape and sharpen our coverage to truly reflect what is going on in our area today. Our Readers Write feature, letters to the editor and our lively Facebook community are all good ways to reach out to us, but also I want our readers to know they can always email me with tips, suggestions or concerns at

With the help of our readers, we’re bucking the trend and showing how local journalism can thrive with community support, ensuring our stories are thoughtful and accurate while holding those in power accountable, seeking out overlooked local experts and giving a voice to underserved communities.

Maggie McGuire is the managing editor at the Moab Sun News and a deep believer in resilient, amazing communities like this one.