Rocket Miner plaque

Just because some disappointments in life are unexpected, it doesn’t make them hurt any less.

When the announcement came that the Rocket Miner would be printed on the other side of the state and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, we knew there would be times when interstate closures would halt all deliveries of the physical paper. It wasn’t a matter of if but when. A countdown clock started, but we didn’t know when it would reach zero.

This past weekend, we ran out of time. The storm that extended many Thanksgiving stays also kept the printed copies of the newspaper from making their way west. They eventually completed the trip from Cheyenne to Sweetwater County, where they were distributed through the mail and sales racks, but the delay was keenly felt in many households.

While the pages and individual stories were available at rocketminer.com, many chose to wait for a paper copy. I sympathize with these people, because I share a preference for physical media. Even as more businesses and outlets switch to paperless bills and digital editions, I like to have something tactile I can hold in my hands.

The transition to do more things online is part of a global trend, but personally I have found that the related changes are arriving at a higher speed and frequency than desired. Of course, that’s how I’d characterize most changes in my life – showing up, often unexpectedly, at inopportune times.

Many of the recent changes at the Rocket Miner have fallen into that category. We recognize that we’ve asked the public to accept a lot of changes in a short amount of time. The number of editions we print, earlier deadlines, switching from local carriers to postal workers who have a different delivery schedule – these have all impacted our readers. We know this has disrupted regular routines that were years in the making. We regret that this has occurred … and that it’s bound to happen again.

Our staff works hard to mitigate as many factors as we can, but complications, setbacks and straight-up mistakes will continue to happen. When those inevitably occur, we work just as hard to make things right. We’re dedicated to delivering an accurate record – even if it takes multiple tries.

The good and bad news is that while recent weather revealed the limitations of our physical edition, it also showcased the capabilities of our online edition.

Years ago, when the paper wasn’t there, your only option was to wait. This past week, when the paper wasn’t there, people quickly flocked to the internet, where we have much more content. Many people don’t realize we post about twice as much at rocketminer.com than what appears in the print edition, and that doesn’t count Facebook or Instagram.

Online forums gave the public a chance to catch up on the news, discuss developments in the comments and, yes, vent their frustrations. While some of the criticisms hurt, we’re glad that people are so invested in the Rocket Miner. When the paper wasn’t there, it was missed.

People care, and this gives me confidence as we go forward. Our priorities in producing quality news – truth, speed, accuracy, clarity, context – haven’t changed, even if the way we deliver it has. We continue to explore new ideas, and we invite continued suggestions and feedback as we do so. The staff is pleased with some new things we’re doing, such as the new Meet Your Neighbor feature on Saturdays and offering cookies and cocoa at the Rock Springs Historical Museum; and we are excited about some new things that we aren’t quite ready to roll out just yet. We’re always looking to do more.

It’s not easy to ask someone to change a habit, so we’re focused on rewarding those who make the effort. We’re thankful for those who continue to support us, and we look forward to working with those who value what we’re doing. Without local partners, we can’t continue to illuminate and inform the public.

The countdown clock has been reset. We still don’t know when the next delay will come, but when it does and the paper isn’t there, we hope you are able to take full advantage of what the Rocket Miner offers online until delivery comes.

Caleb Michael Smith is the editor at the Rocket-Miner. He can be reached at editor@rocketminer.com.

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