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Change is a good thing

May 1, 2008 - Jennifer Houtman
The Marietta Times has been in business for 110 years. That's one of the longest running businesses in Marietta and all of Washington County. Over the course of time, we've changed some of the ways we do business.

We all know "change" can be hard, but I've found that change is usually for the better, and that's the case with a decision we recently made regarding the use of some stringers.

"Stringers" are simply freelancers, and over the years, the Marietta Times has used a handful. They are not full-time employees. They aren't part-time. They are paid by the story or the photo. Contrary to what you may have read or heard elsewhere, we haven't done away with all stringers. We looked at areas where stringers were contributing and determined there were a few we really didn't need anymore. We made the decision that the work they were doing could be handled by our staff members.

We still have stringers we use. Former Marietta Times Sports Editor Bill Robinson is a regular in the newspaper, and we intend to keep it that way. He's too valuable to us, on a professional and a personal level. We feel it's important that he have a voice in our newspaper for as long as he wants to.

We also continue to use columns by Maxine Payne who has a large following in the eastern part of Washington County. We have found her columns invaluable as well. Her columns have been missing of late because of illness.

We did eliminate an outdoors columnist, a sports stringer, a news stringer and a freelance photographer we used from time to time. But that's because our already strong staff can continue the top-notch coverage our readers have come to expect.

It's unfortunate one of the stringers we no longer use chose to suggest we've somehow lessened our commitment to covering high school sports. He's just not accurate. No one else gives you the comprehensive coverage of high school athletics that you find in The Marietta Times print edition and online. No one else gives you a weekly section devoted to high school and youth sports - that's exactly what our Rally section is, and it runs every Thursday.

And no one can give you the comprehensive coverage we provide thanks to the coordinated efforts of our sports staff along with our sister newspaper, The Parkersburg News. The sports staffs of both papers are among the most seasoned you'll find anywhere. They discuss each week what games will be covered by which paper, and those stories and photos are shared between both publications and Web sites. Also, CU provides a place for our staff photographers and citizen shutterbugs to post dozens of photos each week of local sporting events.

You won't find that kind of effort - or quality - anywhere else. We're honored to bring it to you day in and day out, week in and week out.

I'm proud of the work of our sports staff. We have two full-time staffers and a part-time writer. The sports editor balances his time between coverage of events and laying out pages, but his layout duties are shared by other copy editors on our staff. He doesn't do it alone. None of us do.

No sports staff can be everywhere. That's why we rely on coaches and readers to help us, too. If we can't make it to a game, we have a system of very dedicated coaches and parents who take their time and effort to make sure we have information to pass along to readers.

We strive to improve our efforts every day. For example, we hope to expand our coverage of recreational sports (disc golf, tennis, fishing, golf) all of which are popular activities for people of all ages living in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

As always, we love your feedback. Keep those ideas and suggestions coming.


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