Shereen Siewert, Publisher

What would it take for you to really care about a newspaper that isn’t actually on paper?

I could easily spin a narrative to support the idea that Wausau Pilot & Review is some kind of indispensable cog in the machine of democracy, important in a way that will only be noticeable after we’re gone. Certainly, that’s the kind of project far-sighted people will support. It’s more difficult to imagine, though, what it would take to get 50,000 people to reimagine what a community newspaper in the digital age should be.

After attending the national Institute for Nonprofit News annual conference this month where we met and exchanged ideas with more than 100 of our nonprofit news partners from around the country, we came away with a few good ideas on just where to start.

For one, we changed our mission statement to the following:

“Wausau Pilot & Review delivers in-depth reporting and analysis that improves local decision-making. We seek to expand civic engagement to foster a vibrant, inclusive, and interdependent community.”

Two sentences, important as much for what they say as what they don’t say.

Borrowed from our nonprofit news partner Charlottesville Today, the new language makes it clear that our work is journalism and our aim is to help our community exercise its highest values more effectively. Those are simple rules for us to follow and for you, our community of readers, to hold us accountable as we seek to broaden our impact and work towards a sustainable revenue model that includes advertising, sponsorships, donations, grants and memberships.

We, like our nonprofit news partners across the country, realize we need to engage our community in the pursuit to do better. We know we can serve our readers best by providing clear coverage — and an alternative to the area’s regional and weekly newspapers that lack our hyperlocal, hard news focus. We are committed to hard news, though we remain committed to publishing your news releases, announcements, obituaries, births, honor rolls and other community information that has slowly disappeared from local news.

In addition to our new mission, we will continue to evaluate our work in relationship with three guiding values: equity, truth, and community. To that end, we will lead a series of listening sessions in the coming months to hear directly from readers like you to hear what you want from us as we work to turn those values into organizational priorities.

Wausau Pilot & Review is committed to improving its journalism, to being transparent, to paying journalists the right way, and to working for equity through our news process. Together with you, our community, we have the chance to do something even more important.

Let’s reimagine local news for Wausau.

If you would like to help us organize a community listening session with me, email editor@wausaupilotreview-newspack.newspackstaging.com.