The Ajo Observer

By giving people the power to share we’re making the world more transparent.
-Mark Zuckerberg

I was recently asked, “Its so cool you made The Observer! What made you think of that?” My response was:

I guess it started in 2007, my senior year, when we were applying for scholarships. One of the questions we were asked was, ‘If we give you this money what will you give back to Ajo?’ Well I didn’t use the cash in time so I lost it but the question stuck with me. What can you give to the community?

I was here in Ajo during the school prank controversy which I felt the school mishandled and the local newspaper didn’t really share how everyone was feeling. I realize they have a list of requirements whatever you send the paper has to have but it was that same thing that prevented people from being heard. I remember being upset about what I perceived as bias from the paper because, at the time the brother of the Editor was on the school board. However I let it go and afterwards I sort of understood why the newspaper did what they did. Still…

Months later I was in a bit of a depressed state. I was bored and upset. All my friends in Tucson were moving on with their lives or going out to exciting events but here in Ajo I continued to live my monotonous life. So the question of what can you give back to your community started coming back. I considered what I’d be hearing on Ted.com about these average people organizing these brilliant projects utilizing their talents. Considering my talent was in the field of technology I began trying to figure out what I can give Ajo with that talent. I then thought back to the school prank and the climate surrounding it. People expressed a wish to be heard. So I decided to try to give Ajo back it’s voice.

The problem the local paper is trying to avoid is printing information that might be flawed or damaging to people’s reputations. I can respect that and I’ll strive to live up to those standards. Where there is a controversial story, however, I think both sides need to be equally represented without bias. How do I avoid bias? Simple. By letting people report their own stories and letting others comment them. Don’t agree with what this person wrote? You can now comment on the story and add information that might have been omitted or factually incorrect. In this way the community itself acts as its own checks and balances system. It also encourages the community conversation. Where certain details might only accessible to certain circles in town, by having that information added as a comment to the story allows everyone who is following that story to benefit from the information.