November 29, 2011

Why we need community papers - follow up

A little over a week ago, I mentioned here how Ed Henninger had put out a call in defense of community media to explain why we need community papers.

He's got some comments on his blog worth reading


The theme that runs through many of them is that community papers are the glue that helps hold communities together but also that the stories get action. This is from a woman at the Catholic Herald:

Someone wrote to us once to let us know that a story my coworker at the time wrote about a fundraiser, generated an additional $1,000 donation for his cause. After an article I wrote about a program that helps couples heal after having a stillborn baby, I received an email from someone who was touched by the article. Even better, the woman in charge of that program emailed me to let me know that she received a phone call the day it was published from a family who lost a baby—the grandmother wanted to know how she could help.
And this from another comment:

On Friday, a young mother came in our office to place a thank-you ad. Her baby boy died in a tragic car accident on the family property only weeks earlier. Of course, our newspaper covered the story but the story didn’t end with the facts.

As I talked to her, she related how she couldn’t have been standing in front of me without the prayers and support of her family, friends and community. She told me how the local churches prayed for the family and how they received cards from people they didn’t know — these individuals just wanted to share their grief. Others anticipated their needs by providing meals or just a shoulder to cry on. As I looked at her written words of thanks, I started immediately to think how I would sensitively handle this situation and honor her child. I took some of the words she said describing her child and worked them into a concept. The ad hasn’t run yet, but I hope it will help in the healing process.

That’s why I like working for a small-town newspaper. There’s a certain type of person who wants to live in such a community. And in my experience, most of these people value decency, reach out to their fellow man, and are solid individuals with solid morals. They say “Bless their heart…” when bad news happens and slip a 50-dollar bill to the minster or sheriff to help with a family’s need in an anonymous fashion. Of course, our headlines carry the drug arrests and other crime stories, but for the most part, we carry the stories of someone’s engagement and wedding, what’s happening in 4-H, and the goings-on of local politics.

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