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Politically Incorrect

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Goodbye River Journal... newspaper. And hello, River Journal magazine

I fell in love with newspapers in high school. In part it was because I loved to write and they gave me an outlet. In part, it was because our school newspaper was printed with the help of our local newspaper and William Rail, the son of the guy who published the local paper, was very, very cute.

And then high school was over and life was starting; I moved a bunch of different places and worked a lot of different kinds of jobs. I had kids and eventually found myself here in North Idaho and, one day, Susan d’Aoust suggested I should help out this guy who was trying to start a local newspaper. It was back in 1994 when I first walked in the ‘doors’ of the River Journal.

Times change, of course. That was 14 years and a couple of months ago and now I sit here to write the last Politically Incorrect column to print in the “newspaper worth wading through.”

And just seven days after this newspaper hits our stands, readers in our communities will be introduced to The River Journal - a news magazine worth wading through.

It’s a big change for someone like myself, who doesn’t really like any change at all. But I have to tell you - I’m excited about this. Even as I work this week laying out the pages of our final newspaper, I’m also working doing layout on the new magazine - and it looks really good!

How good? Well, you’re gonna have to pick one up on August 1 and judge for yourself, but let me give you just a sneak peek at some of the changes you’ll see.

To start with, it’s a magazine format, and it will only come out once every month. So in order to fit all the news we think is fit to print, it’s going to be big - 64 pages worth of big. (Okay, that’s not so big, but it’s bigger than what you’re holding in your hands right now.)

And it’s a magazine, so yes, it will have a glossy cover, which will allow me to showcase some of the great photography that’s rapidly filling up an external hard drive on my computer.

Open the pages, however, and you’re still going to find the River Journal you’ve all come to know and love - just more of it.

Boots and Marianne and Sandy and Scott. Dustin, Jinx, Dick, Kathy and Gary. Joe and Larry, Thomas, Kate and Matt and Michael. Lou and Paul, Duke, George and Jim, and cartoonists Jim and Scott and Matt will all still be there.

Along with some new friends.

Got a question about how to address a health issue? You’ll get answers from the Sandpoint Wellness Council every month. Intrigued by the thought of becoming a locavore? Emily Levine will set you on the path. Want to identify that bird that’s perched on your porch rail? Mike Turnlund will show you how. Clint will take over sports for Scott, Hanna and Shaina will share with you the perspective of area youth on local and national issues, while Laura Bry will keep you informed on what the liberals in Idaho are up to. (Didn’t know there were liberals in Idaho? That’s why she’s writing for us now!)

You’ll read about the unsung heroes that make our communities worth living in, the non-profits who work for improvement, and the best hiking trails to get you out into the glorious mountains that surround us. You’ll find out what’s happening at area schools, learn a little bit of grammar, and, one at a time, meet the advertisers who keep giving us the dollars that put this publication into your hands time and time again.

Want even more? You’ll get it. There’s book and movie reviews, three pages of calendar events, a minimum of four feature stories each issue and lots and lots of pictures.

Plus, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to become a part of why the River Journal will be a “news magazine worth wading through.” Submit your own reviews, send in photos for a collage of monthly events, ask questions our writers will answer,  answer our ‘man on the street’ question and share your stories about how this really is a small world, after all.

Along with our new format, check out our updated website (www.RiverJournal.com). Still a work in progress, as I struggle through my “HTML for Dummies” book (thanks, Vanderfords!) we’ve incorporated a lot of functions our readers have asked for - more pictures, cartoons, the ability to comment on stories, an easy way to “email to friend.” You can sign up for RSS (no, I don’t really know what that means, but I’m learning), or read our website on your mobile phone (though why anyone would want to do that is beyond me). Read author bios, check out our advertising rates, find quick links to our advertisers’ websites and send us your submissions. You can even follow the links to the websites we like to visit ourselves. Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll send you an email to let you know when the site is updated.

So why this and why now? Like my last daughter and my first grandson, this idea was birthed in a bed at Bonner General Hospital. My body said, “Trish, you can’t do it all,” and, while I don’t like that decision, I realized it wasn’t a debatable point.

Like so many small business owners in our area, I make little money and work a lot of hours. Those two items in combination are not particularly good for your health. So I began to think of ways that I could either make more money, or work fewer hours.

I don’t know if this is the answer, or even if it’s a part of the answer. But that’s okay. If no one likes what we’re doing, or if the work load ends up being more instead of less, I can always go back. I’m learning that change is not such a bad thing, after all.

I still love newspapers. When the back of the truck is full of a new issue and I crawl inside, breathing deeply of newsprint and ink (that’s 40 percent recycled newsprint and soy-based ink, by the way), I know I always will. And I will love this news magazine, as well, especially if it helps me continue to live the life I want to live here in our beautiful corner of the world.

So August 1, take the plunge! Grab a copy of our news magazine - in fact, grab one for a friend as well - and start wading. I suspect you’re going to agree with us that there really is more to life than bad news.

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Landon Otis

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journalism, newspapers, publishing

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