This past week marks a year since the Daily Union changed ownership.

The transition has been marked by a number of big changes to the paper, both in print and online. Some of those changes have been popular. Our new website is cleaner, sleeker and free to use. Our new focus on longform, beautiful storytelling in our weekend issues — such as today’s story on the YouTube videos of Junction City from 1951-1961, and the Feb. 4 front-page feature on Curtis Jackson — has been well received in the community so far. Other changes, such as the comics page our owner Chris Walker addressed in last week’s column, have been less popular.

But, as I stated in my introductory column when I took over as editor just over two months ago, my staff is committed to making the Daily Union the best newspaper it can be. We want to keep you informed, engaged and entertained as best we can. So far in 2017, we’ve shifted to a much more local-focused approach, playing stories of our friends and neighbors in Junction City ahead of anything else in the paper and online. We’ve committed ourselves to becoming more engaged in the community, whether it be out and about in town at events, shaking hands when you stop by the office, or reaching out over the phone from time to time.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reaching out even more. We’re slowly expanding our presence on social media with more and more posts on Facebook. Myself and each of my reporters are committed to staying connected with you on Twitter, and our Daily Union YouTube channel will be receiving more frequent updates. Next week, we’ll also be launching a Daily Union page on Instagram.

But we know not all of our subscribers are interested in the internet and social media, so we’re going the extra mile with old-fashioned face-to-face contact as well.

My reporters Lydia Kautz, Michael Sellman, and our newly-hired sports editor Kim Green, want to meet you. Each of them are committed to listening to your feedback, hearing your ideas and providing you with the information you most want to see in your hometown newspaper. So am I. March 29, I’ll be attending the Breakfast Optimist Club meeting at the Hampton Inn on South Washington Street. Dr. Ferrell Miller has invited me to discuss the changes we’ve made to the paper and get to know some of the community members even better. If you have an event you’d like me or any of my staff to attend, feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Since December, we’ve been thriving on your input. Several stories — like the one about Dennis and Dave Sewell rediscovering their childhood through the vessel of their grandfather’s airplane — were brought to us by community members. We take your advice on events to attend, to take photos and videos and give you the coverage you deserve. But we want more.

And we’re here to listen. You can call us anytime at (785) 762-5000. You can email me at You can even stop by the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and myself, Lydia, Michael or Kim would love to speak with you about any ideas, concerns or questions you may have.

For the past year, the Daily Union has been just as committed to the passion and prosperity of Junction City as it has been for 156 years. And I will personally see to it that the commitment remains for as long as I’m sitting in the editor’s chair.

DEREK SMITH is the editor of the Junction City Daily Union.

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