Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of Clark County Today
I feel blessed to have lived 58 years on this earth, the last 34-plus of which I’ve spent working as a journalist. Age has a wonderful impact on one’s perspective. I’ve spent a great deal of my nearly six decades on this earth thinking I knew a thing or two about a thing or two. But, the longer I live, the more I realize that I don’t know and the more I realize I can learn.
Also, the longer I live, the more I realize how different I am from the average person. Popular opinion, or even popular culture, is usually not very popular with me. I don’t find myself in the majority very often these days. Sure, I am surrounded by loving friends and family who pretty much see the world as I do, but I feel our circle is being surrounded more and more by those who don’t like the fact that we see things through a lens other than their own. Kind of like the fatal final scene from the movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’ Before you start worrying that this is a column about me going out in a blaze of glory, most of you know that’s not my style.
I find it telling that I enjoy very few television shows or even movies that are made these days. What appeals to the masses, doesn’t appeal to me. I walk to the beat of my own drum. I get reminded of it from time to time when I stumble on what I find to be a wonderful television series, only to have it canceled even before it gathers any momentum. While I am engrossed with the particular series, my fellow Americans who bothered to sample it moved on their way with nary an interest.
One of those was HBO’s series The Newsroom, which premiered on June 24, 2012 and concluded after 25 episodes on Dec. 14, 2014. Written by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom lost its momentum so fast in the third and final season that they abruptly ended it after just six episodes that last season.
The final episode was the funeral of the fictitious news network’s President Charlie Skinner, played wonderfully by the actor Sam Waterston. In one of the final scenes, news anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels) addressed his co-workers at a post-funeral gathering and offered some heartwarming words about their fallen friend and his impact on them.
“Charlie Skinner was crazy. He identified with Don Quixote, an old man with dementia who thought he could save the world from an epidemic of incivility simply by acting like a knight. His religion was decency. He spent a lifetime fighting its enemies.’’
I have literally watched the YouTube video of that scene hundreds of times. I often think of what people I care about will say after I pass away. I don’t doubt that some will say I was crazy. I doubt anyone will suggest I acted like a knight. I’m not sure anyone should say my religion was decency, but when it comes to journalism, I will vigorously defend my actions as decent and more virtuous than the overwhelming majority of journalists in the United States today.
You see, I am blessed like those fictional characters on the HBO series I liked so much. I also work with a team of journalists who are spending their lives fighting the enemies of decency, fighting those who only want their voice to be heard, fighting those who try to suppress and censor information and ideas that don’t match their own.
On Monday, our small staff observed the fifth anniversary of the launch of Clark County Today, which took place on Sept. 27, 2016. I had no idea what to expect five years ago when we launched our community news website but I could have never predicted what has taken place. In August, we had well over a million page views and just under 600,000 unique visitors. We set out five years ago to be a local news source for Clark County-centric community news and our reach has expanded throughout the region and beyond. It’s amazing the far-off lands from which we hear from loyal readers.
I dare say the reason the traffic to the Clark County Today website has grown as exponentially as it has is we are not behaving like our brethren in the mainstream media, let alone social media or even the monopoly that controls big tech. We do not exist to be like everyone else. We strive to be different, to be better.
There are few things in this world that are more threatening to a society than for there to only be one voice. And, in far too many ways, that is exactly the time in which we live. Some of you will mock my next statement, and that’s fine. (We allow you to mock us.) But, we live in a country in which the dominant political party controls the mainstream media. During this pandemic, the mainstream media, social media and big tech all do their best to promote just one voice about COVID-19, vaccinations, the benefits of masks, and treatment options for those who get the virus. Even talented and credible scientists and doctors with original thoughts, ideas or research, are censored and silenced. Clark County Today has even been censored and suspended on social media and YouTube.
I get accused all the time of spreading misinformation and disinformation. That is such a narrow-minded viewpoint, or claim. Nobody, I repeat nobody, knows anything 100 percent about COVID-19, vaccinations or anything about this pandemic. I want to vomit every time some celebrity, elected official or medical professional goes on television and spouts some nonsense about how the vaccine is “100 percent safe and effective.’’ Or someone states on one of the comment threads on one of our stories that ivermectin is a “horse dewormer,’’ when in fact it has been used on humans for decades and two doctors won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of its benefits (at that time for uses on humans other than for COVID-19).
I have shared before that I am vaccinated against COVID-19. It took me a while to make that decision and I talked to many, many medical professionals before making my decision. I don’t regret my individual decision and I don’t attempt to influence anyone else’s decision. The last doctor I talked to stated confidently, “it takes hospitalization and death off the table.’’ That was the last thing I needed to hear. How could I not sign up for that? Now, just five months later, just this morning I read a story about how breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and even death rates are rising significantly in the United States among those who are vaccinated. So, I guess, my vaccine hasn’t taken death and hospitalization off the table. That doctor may have been giving me the best information he had available at that time, but it’s just one example that anyone who emphatically states that anything about COVID-19 is absolute, is making a complete fool of themselves.
So, while some of you criticize me when we publish a story about ivermectin, a story by the way that states positive and negative reports, I say open your mind. Same goes with a story we may publish about vaccinations and adverse reactions. Don’t accept someone else telling you it’s misinformation or disinformation. Consider the information. Consider the source it’s coming from. We don’t publish stories with information about those subjects without credible information and sourcing.
We refer to Clark County Today as Your News Source with Integrity. We believe questioning the singular voice that others would like to see dominate the narrative in this country is acting with integrity. We also use the word independent at times in describing ourselves and some of you have questioned that. What is more independent than questioning the establishment, or that singular voice? I for one, don’t want to live in a country, or even a community, that has a singular media voice. In that vein, I shudder to think what Clark County would be like at a historic time such as this if we weren’t around to publish the information that no one else has the courage to publish.
Clark County Today staff
The past five years have been the best of my 34-year career in journalism. First and foremost, Clark County Today exists because of our founder and owner David Madore, who provides the vision, direction and inspiration to do what we do. We are all forever indebted to David for what he has created.
One of the reasons I am so blessed is because I have the pleasure of working with some like-minded professionals who are as devoted and crazy as I am. I’ve introduced them to you many times, but let me do it again on our five-year anniversary:
• Heidi Wetzler, administrator — I’ve worked with Heidi since 2007. She is our counsel, moral compass, bastion of character and integrity and an emerging superstar as a columnist. Over the last several months, her columns have received more page views than any other stories we’ve published over the past five years. If any of our team members need anything, Heidi is the first person they contact.
• Andi Schwartz, graphic designer/webmaster — I’ve also worked with Andi since 2007. I went to work developing Clark County Today in June of 2016. I hired Andi in August of 2016. In about three weeks, she had us launched. If it wasn’t for her, we may have never got launched. She was an incredibly talented designer when she joined our staff, but she has single-handedly operated this news website for the past five years and she is basically self taught when it comes to that task. She educates herself each day and literally works around the clock to deal with any problems that arise. An absolute foundational team member.
• Paul Valencia, reporter — Paul joined our team in June 2017. We were floundering at the time. He was the best sports reporter in the area at that time and he remains so now. A tremendous number of Clark County residents read every word that he writes. As much as I love having Paul the sportswriter, he has willingly branched out in recent years to be much more than just a sportswriter. Paul is a veteran reporter. He can cover any story. But, he loves people. He loves this community. And, he loves getting out in this community and talking to its residents and writing stories about what is going on in their lives.
• John Ley, reporter — John has only been with us for about a year, but what a year it has been. John might have written more words, not more stories, but more words than any other team member at Clark County Today (subtle attempt at humor; if you haven’t noticed his stories tend to be a bit on the lengthy side). He has also taken on most of the stories with the highest importance, such as COVID-19, vaccinations, ivermectin, etc. This region is almost 40 years behind in dealing with transportation congestion issues. No reporter in the area has provided readers more insight and perspective into those transportation issues than John has. John has endless energy which translates into a superhuman work ethic and a seemingly endless amount of enthusiasm and positivity.
Obviously, we’ve had others who have contributed to our growth and success over the past five years. Jacob Granneman still works on special projects with us even though he transferred to the US Digital media team earlier this year. Recently, Jacob directed our coverage of the Memorial Service for Clark County Deputy Jeremy Brown and he also directed and produced a video for Target Zero remembering a Clark County resident killed by an impaired driver.