Mass mailer week has arrived....and we are pleased to deliver to our readers the latest version of the expanded issue which is produced twice each year by the Mattos Newspapers staff.

At 28 packed pages, I believe this week’s Index and Press-Standard offer something of interest to all readers.....that certainly is our goal, at any rate.

A lot goes into the semi-annual mass mailers.....and the special editions also offer an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we do and why we do it.

We go about our business in an era of division and rancor, when too often people label any news that doesn’t fit their particular narrative as fake (regardless of facts) and our duly elected president (who has his own issues with facts) declares the media to be the enemy of the people.....such statements are felt at every level of the profession.

That’s not to say the media is above criticism or reproach, as there have certainly been some less-than-shining moments and in today’s climate every misstep is magnified. But I think that by and large folks in the media, with all their imperfections and flaws, are just like other people who get up and go to work every day with a job to do.....and hopefully are committed to doing that job the best they can.

We make our mistakes as well, but they’re honest mistakes. Case in point: A photo which appeared in last week’s edition with a caption about Gustine crews working on a water valve replacement was in reality another project going on in the community that Saturday. I hate when things like that happen, but sometimes they do. One fact that hasn’t changed since pen was first put to paper is that journalism is often an extremely humbling business. Couldn’t count how many times I wish I could have had a do-over. But there are no mulligans, only corrections, so when we err we try to stand up, own it, fix it and move on to next week.

We do get our occasional irate reader and canceled subscription, as does any paper.

But we also get the positive comments from our readers, the nice thank-you notes and the occasional brownie tray.

For every time somebody brings up a past transgression (and some readers have very long memories) there are the interactions letting me know that something I may have done long ago without a second thought was important to somebody else and is remembered.

And when I think back about those moments, I realize that we are essentially about communities and their people, our friends and neighbors and fellow residents who collective are “us.”

I enjoy seeing the “us” moments, such as the Veterans Day program held Monday in Gustine or Gustine’s Fourth of July celebration or the Fall Festival or.....well, the list goes on in our communities, doesn’t it?

That’s what makes them special, and part of what has kept me here for, well, a long time.

Journalists can be a nomadic lot, but I never felt compelled to move on to greener pastures.....I decided that this was a good place to be. And it has been.

The mass-mailers are part of that experience.

One reward of the extra effort required of mass-mailers is the added interaction with folks I hadn’t previously known (or didn’t know as well as I thought I did).

I thoroughly enjoyed, for example, learning much more about Newman Flange & Fitting.....that was absolutely fascinating and the type of story that I love sharing with readers.

Sometimes conversations unexpectedly strike a personal chord.

Such was the case with Caroline Medeiros Rocha, a Gustine High grad who has created a signature line of cuff jewelry. She shared her journey of faith and how that journey helped her overcome a fear of “not being good enough.” I can completely relate to that, and was inspired by the story she shared.

And then there is Newman seamstress Lori Pasco. I knew she sewed....but who knew that she did all those different things? Fabric, thread and a little time to work....and she’s good to go on just about any project. That’s good info to know.

Those are the kind of stories that keep me coming back for more.

Of course, not all stories are upbeat or entertaining, as we also deal with stories of tragedy and loss and hardship. Those stories all too often hit close to home and are far more difficult to tell, but we always endeavor to do so with compassion, fairness and respect.

And really, regardless of one’s profession or trade, those are pretty good principles to embrace, aren’t they?

At any rate, Fall Mass Mailer 2019 is in your hands.

We hope you enjoy.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.