Here’s a question I’m still turning over in my mind: What kind of stuff should your newsroom keep in perpetuity?
I’m not talking about reporter notes. That’s a separate topic. I’m talking about old photos and negatives, city staff reports from big projects, public records requests from 2007, yellowing newspaper clips, background from that award-winning series in 1999… That sort of thing.
If you are like me, you probably have a bunch of that stuff taking up space on your desk or even at home. You may even have occasion to use that material from time to time.
I ask because Pat Wick at the Sierra Vista Herald asked me for my advice as she and Bill Hess and perhaps others consider a purge of stuff in their offices.
I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer when it comes to what to keep in the digital age. Some of us are just “keepers.” We like knowing that we have materials that we may need again. Others are “recyclers.” We want a clean desk and don’t see the need for all that clutter nowadays.
If there is a continuum between those two poles, I’m probably leaning toward the “recycler” side, but I do have some things I have a hard time tossing. For instance, I have a drawer (you see the contents in the photo) that I hadn’t opened in years before today. I can say with near certainty that I will never need any of that paperwork again. In fact, if I ever get around to it, I’ll throw it all away. …
Because that is my MO. I keep things till they bug me then I throw it all away. As policy I’m not sure that makes any sense. It’s just me.
There are some things that you probably don’t want to get rid of. I’m thinking of things that have some historic importance for your news site or your town. You might give old photos to the local historical society. I suggested to Pat that, if they have anything interesting related to the history at Fort Huachuca they might offer it to Army historians. I would never throw away bound copies of the newspaper. That’s historical record.
As you give it some thought, remember that we live in a digital age. Most of the stuff in my drawer could be had again with an email to a government agency. I don’t think there is any reason to keep background materials from local government. Same for newspaper clips – at least those available online.
I’m interested in hearing what you guys think. What sorts of things are worth keeping?