Newspapers simply offer reflection of community
“Why do you guys always put so much bad news in the paper?” the voice on the end of the line asked. “It just makes our town look like a bad place to live.”
This recounts the basic gist of a conversation I have had many times over the years, written about repeatedly and revisited with a reader again a few days ago.
My answer is always the same: “We don’t report ‘good’ news or ‘bad’ news. We just report ‘the’ news.”
That may sound like an over-simplified answer but it is truly the approach we take with our newspapers. We don’t try to elevate any type of story. Instead, we want to inform readers of all aspects of what is going on in their community — things that are viewed as both positive and negative.
After all, let’s not forget, any newspaper that is doing its job is simply a reflection of the community it serves.
We want to tell readers about the new business opening, the group that is honoring veterans as the heroes they are, the youth that accomplishes amazing things at school or the individual who gives selflessly to a local non-profit organization, just to name a few of the “good” news stories we print.
But, on the other hand, we have a responsibility to report on the crime in your neighborhood and how your dollars are used in this fight by law enforcement efforts and in the court system.
No place on earth is perfect so the idea that businesses or developers will look elsewhere simply doesn’t hold water. In fact, I would argue this reflects positively on a community as it shows law enforcement and others are serious about providing its citizens a great place to live.
Our job is to inform and educate readers about the world around them. We cannot do that by asking people to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. It is a disservice to our readers and a disservice to our communities.
Burying our heads in the sand won’t make our problems go away. Education and information will allow us to work together as a community to make southwest Michigan the best it can be.
Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at email@example.com.