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A letter to our readers

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Around the beginning of every year, this newspaper's publishers and editorial staff review their efforts from the previous year and outline goals for the coming year. Over the next several weeks, we'll be filling you in on those reviews and plans --- and asking for your comments.

            Our news writers' work in 2003 covered a wide range of issues, from the county-executive race and MonroeCounty's financial problems to the threat to abortion rights and the war in Iraq. On the lighter side, we've expanded a type of coverage we especially enjoy, seeking out the unknown, sometimes quirky Rochesterians who add life and spice to the community. In addition to weekly events articles, listings, and reviews, our arts and entertainment coverage included our annual guides to Rochester's important film festivals, Image Out and HighFalls, as well as guides to such events as the Corn Hill Arts Festival and the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

            In 2004, we'll continue to strengthen and broaden our arts and entertainment coverage. And on the news side, a major focus in this crucial year will be the presidential election. Later this month, we'll have our analysis of the Democratic candidates as we head toward the March 2 New York primary. While coverage of local news is at the core of our mission, national and international developments are also important to us. Such news, in fact, has been part of the heart of the nation's oldest alternative newspapers, including City, since our founding during the Vietnam War.

            Our local news focus this year will include continued coverage of developments in government and the environment. We remain concerned about the regional economy, the effect of government action on the poor, Rochester's murder rate, the loss of open space, sprawl, poverty concentration, and segregation: not just the community's troubling racial and economic segregation, but also the geographic segregation that breeds divisiveness and parochialism and prevents the Greater Rochester region from becoming the healthy community it should be.

            We're expanding our coverage of issues affecting individual suburbs. We'll continue to keep an eye on development proposals for downtown Rochester. We'll be devoting substantial resources to an analysis of crime in Rochester. And we'll be adding new features both in our news and in our A&E pages, helping readers learn more about, and enjoy, the community in which they live.

            The goal of all of this: to provide substantive coverage of the events and developments of Greater Rochester.

Beyond our pages: Like many newspapers, City helps sponsor numerous events presented by local arts organizations, entertainment providers, and community organizations: concerts, lectures, theatrical performances, festivals. Particularly in difficult economic times, it's important for us to help organizations and institutions that are enriching the quality of life in Greater Rochester.

            We were particularly proud to be co-sponsors of new efforts launched in 2003. Among them: Geva's Improv series, the Alexander Street Festival, and the wildly successful Festival of Food (raising money for FoodLink, which provides food, information, and other resources for the needy, and InterVol, which distributes medical supplies and equipment in the US and abroad).

            And for the fourth year, we partnered with the Landmark Society and the City of Rochester for our weekly Home Work real-estate feature, to preserve and promote architecturally significant housing stock in Greater Rochester.

            In 2004 we'll continue those relationships and will be adding new ones, to help you help your community.

Now: your thoughts. Story ideas come from our writers, but they also come from you. What should we look at in 2004?

            We welcome and encourage your input. You can reach us at 244-3329: (for news, managing editor Chad Oliveiri, extension 11; for features and events, features editor Erica Curtis, extension 25). E-mail: themail@rochester-citynews.com; land mail: City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607-1199.

            Next week: What is "alternative" journalism?

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