What the Heights Observer is—and isn't
When you’re involved with running a newspaper you learn there are some things that can never be said enough.
Such as: The Heights Observer is not an ordinary newspaper. In fact, if there were another word to use for it, I wouldn’t describe it as a newspaper at all. Here’s why:
- No reporters. Every word we publish is submitted by volunteers in the community. If you call me with a great story idea, I’ll tell you the only way that story is likely to get written is if you do it yourself.
- Contributors are encouraged to write about people they know and organizations they work for. A traditional newspaper would view this as a conflict of interest. We believe it’s useful, as long as any relationship between the author and the subject of an article is disclosed.
- We’re not good at certain things newspapers traditionally do, such as routine coverage of public meetings. We’re grateful for our partnership with the League of Women Voters—which sends volunteers to observe and report on school board, library board and city council meetings. But that effort only scratches the surface of what deserves to be covered, and as long as we’re volunteer-based, it’s likely to stay that way.
- The Observer is not a profit-seeking entity. It’s published by nonprofit FutureHeights, and is supported entirely through advertising. We’re grateful to our advertisers—mostly local, independent businesses and organizations that pay for what they perceive to be the a two-part benefit of reaching Observer readers and supporting the Observer project itself. Other than occasional ads for things such as Cain Park programming, neither Cleveland Heights nor University Heights has ever provided financial support to the Observer.
If the Observer is not an ordinary newspaper, what is it?
I see it as plumbing: Something that has little value on its own, but becomes vital when filled with water—or, in this case, information. Any community member is welcome to use the Observer to inform or persuade others about events, activities and issues relevant to Cleveland Heights and University Heights. So far about 1,000 different people have accepted that offer, with a few more coming in every month.
Whatever the Observer means to you, to me it’s a representation of the community itself.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.