The publisher and managing editor reply: Our Big Ideas package was not meant to comprehensive. We aimed to offer a sampling of big ideas — and a short, historical timeline of them. Clearly, the timeline omits much of the Asheville area’s rich history, and without doubt it shows an unintentional bias. Some of these omissions you’ve pointed out, and still more remain to be pointed out by those with other perspectives.
For our biases and omissions, we apologize. We have no doubt that our Big Ideas package inadequately represented the remarkable contributions of our diverse community — and we thank you for your suggestions.
That said, since you question the last decade of our reporting, we are proud of Mountain Xpress overall body of work — now approaching two decades’ worth. We believe that Xpress’ coverage has been trailblazing in terms of promoting citizen journalism and citizen action. It has played a key media role in Asheville’s evolution as a vibrant, diverse, tolerant and activist-oriented community.
Your proposed examples of action have great merit. But given our limited resources and the community’s almost unlimited ability to provide ongoing, course-correcting feedback, such as yours — we believe our best strategy for serving the community is to focus on reporting, and to be open to, and always encouraging of, community feedback.
Do we need to learn from our mistakes and be challenged to improve ourselves as a community media operation? Yes! That process is going on right now with this dialogue — as well as with other conversations in the Letters section, online in the comments to articles, by phone and face-to-face meetings and email.
Xpress is, has been, and will continue to be open to criticism from all directions of the community, every week. Will we make more mistakes? Certainly. Will there be more criticism? Certainly.
We applaud the activism of the open-letter signatories. Your words and actions challenge Xpress, but more than that, through the years, you have each challenged many of us who live and work here to be more aware, more tolerant, more thoughtful. You are community-builders. Thank you.
In closing, we can report that revising our Big Ideas online timeline effort is paying off: We have selected a platform (timelineJS) and have begun populating it with 1) the historical big ideas we already reported on, 2) the ideas suggested in the open-letter discussions and 3) ideas that others have suggested thus far via email, online comments, etc. We’re in the process of fact-checking the new entries, and we plan to launch the timeline publicly in about two weeks. At that time, it will be open for readers to suggest more big ideas that they believe should be included, and we can explore how we might publish a revised timeline in print.
Going forward, we’ll take your concerns into account as we plan future print and online coverage. And we invite all those who wish to contribute to Xpress — from big ideas to cover stories — to contact us.