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I'm writing this on a Wednesday, the day the new issue of Real Change comes out and therefore my favorite day of the week.
Through the bus window on the way to work I can see vendors downtown, waving copies in the air. Even at a distance, the cover of the newspaper looks sharp and bright and vendors seem proud of what they're selling.
In the office, I grab a couple stacks and head to the basement, where we keep an archive of old issues.
Sometimes, five or 10 minutes later, I find myself still standing alone in that cold, cluttered room, perusing the new Real Change. That's when I see the paper as a reader, not the editor. That's when I'm reminded why this newspaper is different.
In my time as a reporter I was cautioned to write at a level a fifth-grader could understand, and to try to keep things "light and bright." The idea is that readers have short attention spans and don't want to be burdened with too much "bad news."
At Real Change we have the luxury, perhaps the imperative, to break those rules every week. A single issue recently contained stories about the extreme tactics of debt collectors, racial disparities in school discipline and the perils of redeveloping subsidized housing.
Looking closely at our communities can yield some heart-rending results. When Assistant Editor Rosette Royale portrayed an Aurora fast-food restaurant that's become a haven for the homeless "Having it their way," (RC, Feb. 8, 2012) it didn't have a happy ending. When reporter Aaron Burkhalter described how the mentally ill are flooding our state's emergency rooms and jails, ("State of Desperation," RC, April 11, 2012) he showed things will only get worse, thanks to budget cuts.
This is not Chicken Soup for the Politically Correct Soul. It's all hardcore journalism, all the time.
Amazingly, you, our readers, spur us on, challenging us to dig deeper in our reporting and to hone our understanding of the complex issues affecting economic injustice.
In your calls and letters, cards and emails, you assure us you don't want to look away from the problems of economic inequality, you want to face them and find ways to do better.
With these expectations for Real Change, you, our readers, dispel every cynical notion about what mass media can do, and what people ought to expect from journalists.
In my time as editor, I've learned Real Change readers are compassionate, sophisticated and -- when it comes to social issues journalism -- absolutely hardcore.
We're hardcore because you are.