Mike Winder
West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder will start writing news about his city for DeseretConnect.com, a Web-based news contributor network from which KSL, Deseret News and other media affiliates draw stories for publishing.

Editor's note: Mike Winder is the Mayor of West Valley City, and an author of seven published books. He works with The Summit Group Communications and Winder Farms.

When I was elected mayor of Utah’s second largest city in 2009, I promised to find ways to better connect with residents and to better tell West Valley City’s story to the rest of Utah and beyond.

Since that time we have launched the city’s WVC-TV channel, become more proactive on Facebook and Twitter, began a monthly Mayor’s Video Report, initiated the popular “Milk with the Mayor” open-door meetings, and last year began a tradition of an annual State of the City address.

It is in this vein that I sign up today to write for Deseret Connect, a freelance contributor network utilized by Deseret News, KSL and their affiliate media partners.

Being a Deseret Connect contributor will be an opportunity to share more information about West Valley City or other topics I care passionately about with a large audience. National studies show that newspapers — online and in print — are still absolutely critical in helping to educate people about what their local government is doing.

According to a team of Michigan State University researchers in their report “News Media Coverage of City Governments in 2009," the majority of news about local government still comes from daily and weekly newspapers. Their data, compiled from research in 98 major metropolitan cities and 77 suburban communities, showed newspaper coverage was especially the the most prominent news medium in suburban cities, like West Valley City, than in larger central metro cities.

The world of journalism is forever changed in the Web-based world we find ourselves. And Clark Gilbert, Deseret News CEO, gets it and has helped his organization adapt accordingly. As an elected official wanting to keep my constituents and neighboring communities informed, it is important that I adapt, too.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, recently wrote in the Washington Post about the future of his industry in a Web-based world: “How to produce local content remains a mystery."

But with Deseret Connect, some of that mystery may begin to be solved. It’s at least an experiment worth testing.

Follow Mike Winder on Twitter @mayorwinder.