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David Jacobs on Pahrump community events: tell me now or tell me later?

Which is worse: missing an event because you didn’t know about it in advance or showing up to an event and learning that you can’t attend because it is not open to the public?

They both sound equally bad. It’s our job here at the Pahrump Valley Times to make sure readers don’t face the prospect of missing or getting shut out of an event.

Event coverage: tell me now or tell me later?

Sometimes, even with the best of planning, things can fall through the cracks.

I received an email recently from a reader wanting to know why we did not have a list of Easter services in the newspaper. Ideally, that would have run April 14 — Good Friday — at the latest.

In late March, I assigned one of our reporters to do a preview story of Holy Week and Easter so that we could run the information in advance. That way, readers would have had plenty of time to make their plans.

The full and thorough preview story did run, well in advance, letting readers know what was planned in Pahrump. But we also should have had a short reminder in later editions of the Pahrump Valley Times, reminding readers of the then-upcoming Good Friday and Easter events. We did use our Pahrump Valley Times Facebook page to get the word out, but having an item in the newspaper would have been a good idea. As for the Jewish holiday of Passover, we missed that altogether, something we’ll aim to improve on.

AN EXAMPLE

Along similar lines, we received questions about our coverage of the inaugural Caribbean Mardi Gras Carnival/Reggae Festival at the Bob Ruud Community Center in Pahrump. Specifically, some of our Facebook readers questioned why we did not let people know in advance about the festivities so that they could attend. I covered the event for us after spotting an advertisement for it in the Pahrump Valley Times. I also saw a large sign promoting the event outside the community center near Highway 160, allowing passersby to know about the event.

I posted a photo gallery of the Mardi Gras Carnival/Reggae Festival shortly after the event, followed by a story, which reached our Facebook page April 18.

Our timing could have been better, but it raises some questions:Do you as readers want some type of list with community events?

Do you prefer a full preview story on individual special events, detailing what you would see if you attend the event?

Would you rather see us cover the actual events with you learning what transpired later?

Is a mixture of a preview plus actual event coverage preferable? Or would that be repetitive?

And what roles do our social media platforms such as Facebook play in letting the community know what’s coming up?

I personally know of people who like to read about events ahead of time. Others prefer and expect to find after-the-fact coverage in a future newspaper edition. They consider newspapers to be an official place of record in the community. They want to see stories and photos, even if they appear after the fact, whether that be July Fourth celebrations, Christmas observances or community festivities.

The same holds true for local sports coverage. Do you prefer coverage of the actual athletic events, more timeless features on the local teams and their athletes, more of an emphasis on previewing sporting events or all of the above?

DIFFERING VIEWS

When it comes to advance coverage, I’ve been told through the years that it’s essential for a community newspaper to detail in advance which businesses and government offices will be closed on holidays such as Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day and Nevada Day. This information takes a while to compile and involves a lot of legwork for just a few newspaper paragraphs. Others have told me it is not a good use of time because people already know what’s open or closed on holidays.

As for community, cultural and musical activities, I do know that some newspapers, particularly alternative weekly publications, have a full-time “calendar” staffer just to compile lists of various events for readers. It’s a big commitment and time-consuming to gather, organize, edit and fact-check the dates, times, addresses and phone numbers prior to publication.

For now, in the Pahrump Valley Times, a good place to look is our “Entertainment Guide” that runs in the Friday newspaper. Expanding each week, the list includes information on upcoming live music, karaoke, art exhibits and more.

In addition to that, I do know that as I write this, our staff is previewing multiple events for the weekend: the Earth Day/Arbor Day Festival at Discovery Park, the visit to Pahrump by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. and the 22nd Annual Pahrump Valley Youth Golf Founders Club Quarter Auction, all planned for Saturday. In each of these stories, I have asked our reporters to include how the public can take part.

In addition, we also plan to send a reporter and/or photographer to each of those events. That way, we can share with you the highlights. Whether it involves coverage of news, sports, religion, calendar items or other topics, knowing your preferences is important. Please write to me so that we can fine-tune our coverage when possible. Thank you again for reading the Pahrump Valley Times.

David Jacobs is editor of the Pahrump Valley Times. You can reach him at djacobs@pvtimes.com

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