Mistletoe Market

A Mistletoe Market Christmas [Print]

By Katelyn E. Rutt

Each year, the month of December brings a variety of holiday festivities and traditions to the Lynchburg community. The downtown area is decked out in Christmas lights and wreaths, and local shops offer new sections of holiday-themed items and treats. Families enjoy strolls through the square, and businesses open their doors to a diverse group of local customers.

The Lynchburg Community Market also contributes to the holiday scene by hosting the Mistletoe Market each year on December 10. Vendors and local shops set up booths inside the market area, and visitors are encouraged to support the community by buying from the variety of food products, gifts and handcrafted Christmas decorations. The Downtown Lynchburg website says that the market works to stay true to Lynchburg’s historic traditions, while still improving and making it a unique experience for its guests each year.

“We, at the Mistletoe Market, are a snapshot of what Lynchburg is all about,” Market Manager Jennifer Kennedy said. “We want to help you feel what it would have been like spending the holidays in Lynchburg throughout the decades.”

Kennedy says the market staff and planning committee strives to make it an event that is open to all of Lynchburg’s guests and residents. In order to successfully do this, she says that they have made major adjustments to the market over the past few years.

“We used to have a strict policy that people could not use their phones or cameras at the photo booth,” Kennedy said. “As it’s evolved, we’ve changed it and wanted to offer a service that you would not really see anywhere else in Lynchburg. We hoped to see a place where families and all people could enjoy the experience without any restriction.”

As a result, she said the number of attendees has grown significantly.

“I’ve been working at the market for the past six years,” Kennedy said. “Especially during that time, we have really evolved the traditions here. We are really trying to make it an experience that is available to everyone, where people can enjoy the season and the community.”

Overall, Kennedy says that the Mistletoe Market has been a beloved Lynchburg for 15 years. While it is a favorite holiday event for most residents, she said local businesses also look forward to it as a time to connect with their buyers, and build relationships with the local community.

“My favorite part of being at the Mistletoe Market is the rich history of downtown Lynchburg,” Deniece Ehlers, owner of Deniece’s Stained Glass Designs said. “I love hearing people’s stories about their relatives and how they had beautiful stained glass pieces. It’s neat being able to replicate that for them.”

Ehlers said she has been at the market for six years, and looks forward to the event each Christmas season. She said she loves hearing what buyers think of her products, and tailors her stained glass designs to customer feedback.

“I try to keep updating everything,” Ehlers said. “I find unique patterns online, and get some inspiration from other stained glass artists. I also get ideas from customer suggestions, and recently started offering repairs because a lot of my buyers started asking about it.”

Overall, Ehlers said she tries to be very open to change, while still staying true to the historical roots of Lynchburg. Overall, looks forward to the upcoming years at the market and adapting to Lynchburg’s changing community.

“The vendors that we’ve chosen and the seasonal products we offer really speak to what we really want people to understand when they are here at the market,” Kennedy said. “We want them to get a pride of place and a sense of the community.”

Kennedy said she enjoys seeing people come out to the Mistletoe Market each December. Additionally, she said it is a huge boost to the community’s economy.

“We recognize that our visitors spend their dollars here,” Kennedy said. “They use their money to show that small businesses and locally-grown food are important. This money has a lot of economic impact for the Lynchburg community.”

Overall, Kennedy said she feels privileged to be a part of something so unique and historic.

“The Lynchburg Community Market is a place where the community can gather and people can come every single week,” Kennedy said. “It’s so amazing to know we hold a place in people’s hearts like that.”

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A Mistletoe Market Christmas [Web]

By Katelyn E. Rutt

On December 10, the Lynchburg Community Market hosted their 15th annual Mistletoe Market. The event provided the opportunity for residents to take part in the festivities of the holiday season, while also supporting the community.

“It really gives you a feel of what Lynchburg is all about,” Market Manager Jennifer Kennedy said. “People have really embraced this and made their own traditions here. We want to help you feel what it would have been like spending the holidays in Lynchburg throughout the decades.”

The vendors

During the day, Kennedy said guests are encouraged to shop at the vendors inside the market area. Each year, she said the planning committee carefully chooses local businesses that embrace the rustic atmosphere of Lynchburg, and work to showcase that through their items.

“We have a lot of generational vendors,” Kennedy said. “This is really neat because they, by nature, change and improve each time.”

According to the Lynchburg Community Market website, there were 20 vendors this year. Local artisans sold handcrafted wreaths and Christmas decorations, and local bakeries set up stands of holiday-flavored treats.

Local crafters

“I love hearing people’s stories about their relatives and how they had beautiful stained glass pieces,” Deniece Ehlers, owner of Deniece’s Stained Glass Designs said. “It’s neat being able to replicate that for them.”

Ehlers said she has been a vendor at the Mistletoe Market for six years. She added that it is an occasion she looks forward to every December because of its strong sentimental value.

“I just love the atmosphere of the community here,” Ehlers said. “It’s so neat making connections with locals, especially this time of the year. Everything is so sentimental, handcrafted and homegrown.”

Growing a healthy community

In addition, Kennedy said there were also seven local farmers at the market, who sold a variety of fresh produce, fruit and honey:

  • Crooked Creek Bison
  • Three Springs Farm
  • Soulshine Farms
  • Turnip The Beets Farm
  • Dancing Chick
  • Virginia Natural Fish Co.
  • Thistle Ridge Farm

A Deeper Purpose

Kennedy said she has greatly enjoyed seeing the market grow over the years. She said her favorite part is seeing how much locals, visitors and families enjoy the holiday season in downtown Lynchburg.

“The Lynchburg Community Market is a place where the community can gather and people can come every single week,” Kennedy said. “It’s so amazing to know we hold a place in people’s hearts like that.”

Overall, she said the Lynchburg Community Market planning committee is looking forward to the upcoming years and seeing how much the event will improve.

“It just gets better and better,” Kennedy said. “For some people, this is the highlight of their Christmas season, and we are so happy we can be that for them.”

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A Mistletoe Market Christmas [Broadcast]

By Katelyn E. Rutt

Every Christmas season, the Lynchburg Community Market puts on the Mistletoe Market, one of Lynchburg’s most popular holiday events// This year, the festivities were held on December 10, making it the 15th annual Christmas street fair// It was a time for both locals and new visitors to shop, enjoy holiday activities and experience the historic traditions of the downtown area// A variety of vendors and small businesses filled the market area, and visitors were encouraged to buy items and support the community// A group of local farmers, woodworkers, artisans and bakers sold their homemade products, specifically created for the Christmas season// The Lynchburg Community Market also offered free horse and carriage rides, as well as pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus// Additionally, visitors could stroll down the streets and stop by any of the local businesses, which were framed by Christmas decorations and lights// Market Manager Jennifer Kennedy said she hopes that they will continue the event for years to come and be able to provide a place for residents to gather together, support the local economy and enjoy the magic of the season///

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Final Reflective Blog Post

Not too long ago, a subscription to the local newspaper was as necessary and common as paying for food, gas or electricity. Nearly every American bought into the news industry, and as such, it thrived and grew tremendously.

However, in recent years, you may have noticed that the journalism industry has quickly taken a turn for the worse. As budgets get cut and viral cat videos seem to be more popular than ever, the golden era of local news has slowly faded into a faint memory.

We live in an era of radical, digital change. As new technology is constantly released and the online world continues to expand faster than ever before, our society has become saturated with more information than it knows what to do with. As such, many news organizations are beginning to wonder about the future of their industry and how to succeed in such a difficult market.

Local news outlets have been among the most groups significantly affected by this digital upheaval. Drawing readers from a relatively small demographic, these organizations often find it difficult to attract traffic or generate sufficient advertising dollars. Unfortunately, hiring staff and supporting the cost of gathering news, is often prohibitive and has led the slow deterioration of local organizations.

According to the Nieman Journalism Lab, local newsroom employment declined more than 10 percent in 2014. In facts, records show that has been the largest decline since the financial crisis, even though America’s overall economy is improving.

Unfortunately, the growing millennial audience is also beginning to tune out local TV news in the same way that they did previously with print news. Instead, social media has increasingly replaced news outlets, as readers rely on their networks in order to discover important information. Furthermore, the American Press Institute notes that most of these readers’ interaction with news is incidental, and they are generally indifferent about their experience.

As the local news presence deteriorates, so does the awareness and participation of citizens. In a recent web piece, the Washington Post explain the detrimental effects of this on local elections.

The article notes that, because smaller news operations have shut down, larger newspapers are some of the only source of local news in many communities. Because of this, local political coverage is getting more and more difficult to find. The Washington Post goes on to say that when the news environment is scarce, overall engagement is severely diminished.

The end result is significantly decreased knowledge of specific candidates and a larger uninformed public. When the public is less interested in the local reporting, the newspapers will be less interested in investing more money, which also means that there will be a decrease in reporting. Thus the vicious cycle continues.

While national correspondents can certainly provide some of the information about events and situations, local news outlets are truly the heartbeat of a community. They do far more than just cover the road conditions or daily weather report. Instead, they give insight into the smaller details and have the ability to revisit a story in a way that national news services can’t match.

According to Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local, local news reporters have one of the most unique and important types of jobs. Because they are working in such a targeted location, they have to chance to build strong and lasting relationships with their interviewees. Not only do these reporters cover larger, more national issues on a smaller scale, but they also emphasize topics that hit close to home and deeply affect local readers.

Additionally, local news outlets bring a vital connection to the community. Without them, how do you find out about events coming to town, local political information, town hall hearings, or neighborhood news? National reporters can never truly understand the nuances of a community or decipher what information is actually important and relevant.

As an aspiring journalist, I think it is vital to understand the current direction of this industry in order to implement the necessary changes to bring success.

According to research done by the Shorenstein Center, local news organizations must create and regularly use websites in order to grow their audience. The article goes on to say that a small group of print readers is no longer enough to sustain a newspaper.

However, with such a difficult target, how can local new outlets go about attracting these audiences? An article by the Kennedy School of Government suggests making news “sticky”, or in other words, ensuring that it stands out more profoundly than other content on the web. Additionally, this includes seeking to attract specific demographics that currently only visit national news sites.

As outlined in their research, the Shorenstein Center discusses several possible solutions to the issues of low traffic to local news.

First, outlets must improve the online experience of their websites, including mobile compatibility and speeding up load times. Second, they suggest improving the engagement with content by simply publishing more articles and creating more original content that brings value. Finally, they state that increased attention on social media efforts will be a vital component of a successful strategy.

A world without community journalism would be void of important news that feeds our democracy. According to Saving Community Journalism, “Local news organizations are the glue that binds communities, reminding us every day of our collective identity, the stake we have in one another, and the lessons of history.” Thus, it is necessary to revitalize local outlets and once again make local media a prevalent part of our society.


Reflective Blog Post

Over time, the world of written media has greatly improved. Nonetheless, journalists today still face many of the same issues as before, struggling to find a balance of trust between them and their readers. The basis of journalism is trust, and when it is broken, it may take years to be earned back.

This issue is seen so clearly in the movie “Shattered Glass” as Stephen Glass, reporter for the New Republic, built his whole career on a lie. Not only did he fabricate information about the people, locations and statistics in his stories, but he also blatantly lied to his editor and co-workers. He was popular, sought after and a seemingly talented writer until one story unraveled, and suddenly his whole career was destroyed in front of his eyes.

Like Glass, many journalists willingly leave all ethics behind to be successful or recognized as a good writer. However, now more than ever, it is crucial that journalists write stories that are ethical. Not only will this improve the writer’s reputation and credibility, but it will also build trust in the news publication he or she may be writing for. 

According to the Verification as a Strategic Ritual excerpt, the main difference between journalism and any other type of entertainment or propaganda is that journalism uses the discipline of verification. Verification is the process of weeding out fact from fiction, as well as determining the overarching theme of a story. Ultimately, the main point of an article should be realized and verified before being written so the final story is ethically sound.

In chapter four of Community Journalism: Relentlessly Local, author Jock Lauterer says that a newspaper’s greatest resource are its readers. The chapter goes on to talk about the importance of writing truthfully, whether you are writing for a small community newspaper, or a one of the largest newspapers in the country. Lauterer adds that journalists should always view their topics through a tight lens, making sure that the end goal is the welfare and education of the public.

According to a 2016 survey done by the PEW Research Center, only 22 percent of readers trust the facts given in community newspapers. Furthermore, only 18 percent of the public have confidence in national media sources. The study also discovered that only four percent of readers trust the news they read on social media or the web.  

The Verification as a Strategic Ritual article says that most readers put high confidence in authoritative sources, like prominent individuals who are experts on the topic of the story. Because of this, the article notes that anonymous or low-profile sources can weaken a story, making it look suspicious and severely lowering public trust.

In “Shattered Glass,” this situation is seen very clearly when Glass fabricated information for his main story, ‘Hacker Heaven.’ Because he used information from fake, low-profile sources, other news outlets quickly caught onto this and were able to tear his entire career apart.

However, it is crucial that the fear of being caught fabricating facts, or stealing information is not the primary motive driving journalists to report with honesty. Ultimately, this drive must first come from a true desire to write with truth and accuracy.

Proverbs 12:17 says that a man who speaks with truth tells what is right, while a false witness speaks with deceit. Countless times in the Scriptures, Christians are challenged to speak only what is profitable and uplifting to others. This means that reporters must not alter the truth, even if a slight change could make a story more convincing or exciting.

If only more journalists could understand this truth, the world of media would be so much different. However, until that time comes, ethical journalists must stand fast and stick to their moral conscience amidst a society that seeks to embellish for a better story.

In the end, not only will the results be more accurate, but journalists will gain the unshakeable trust of their readers, and that truly is worth more than any short term success deceit might bring.