Kevin Olson

Associate Publisher, Jackson Hole News & Guide, Jackson Hole Daily

Jackson Hole, Wy

[WY-E 0101]

My “Ah-ha” moment that displayed the impact of journalism and publishing was around the year 2000.

I worked for the Orange County Register at the time, and we really worked hard to make the community come alive through this momentous occasion, you know, the turn-of-the-century, 2000. And so we set out on a very ambitious publishing project where we told the history of Orange County.

We made the history come alive in classrooms through a mobile education program. We had magazines that focused on different facets of our life in that community. The newspaper had a series of stories over the course of a year that allowed our residents to really see the fabric of life in that community.

And so through a number of different methods, what the community got as a result of that project, which its core tenet was journalism, was a real clear understanding of what made the county, at that stage of the game, great – what it struggles were and what successes were, what the children could look forward to in its future, what their role in the future was.

So that was kind of a shining moment that showed how the sum of all the efforts of what you do as a publisher can really come out and make a community understand where it’s at and where it needs to go.

As we transition to Jackson Hole then, I feel a project that is the core of that same project is this Jackson Hole Compass Project that we’re doing. Because, in a very similar way, it really allows the residents to know what it’s all about, and where were headed as a community, and what our individual roles [can be] in preserving what we like or changing what we don’t like. And I think we – as a news organization – kind of spur on that effort through what we do.

You know some people will say, “Well, all you guys do is write on the bad news.” Well, I guess the flip side would be through revealing what some of the bad stuff is we understand what it takes to get better. And I think that’s a moral compass that’s very important for a community.

We are not on high; we’re vulnerable. But our responsibility is to point out things that could be better. At the same time we point out a lot of things that are great. And I think it’s a through that storytelling people become enthused about the people and the place where they live and have a desire to contribute.

So the sum of what we do has a very positive impact on the community, and I would say through the Orange County project and now what we do, on a day-in day-out basis in Jackson Hole, is very, very core – very important about why we do what we do.