September 26 – In my nearly 45 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, I have learned from many bright people how to do many things right.
Including: The importance of accuracy and fairness. The need to keep reporting until you really “have” the story. I refuse to pretend I work for a small newspaper and I have no hesitation in tackling the big story.
Most of the wisdom came from an editor I worked for during my early days in this Connecticut business.
The best way to tell a story, he said, is to speak to the people who are directly involved in it.
That might sound like a matter of course, and maybe it is. But stories are published daily in the media landscape that are full of data and experts but lack human voices.
Sure, data and experts give context to reporting. But when we set out to cover topics that are really important here in the Susquehanna Valley, the most important thing is to get in touch with people who have experience with those topics.
In my nearly six years at The Daily Item, we’ve published a variety of such stories. Each of them involved people like you.
For example, this year we have had the help of many Valley people who have shared their emotional and sometimes tragic stories for our ongoing series “When COVID Hits Home”.
Our multi-part report, Rx for Rural Health, examining problems and possible solutions for improving medical care, has benefited greatly from people like you who shared your concerns.
In March, when we were looking for Valley residents who had contributed to the Peace Corps for the 60th anniversary of this organization, half a dozen volunteers from the Valley shared their experiences.
Our reports on police diversification, fire stations consolidation, teenage mental health concerns in the area, and many others were all better because Valley people came up to be the center of attention.
All of these and many others will continue to be available in the Special Reports section of our website. I keep doing this for two specific reasons.
First I want to say thank you. Community journalism needs the support and participation of the community. Many of you have stood up for us on both fronts.
Second, I would like to ask for more assistance in telling two important stories ahead.
The first, scheduled for early November, will examine the questions and seek answers for quality childcare in the Valley. Reporter Marcia Moore will lead this effort.
If you are a working parent in need of childcare, an employer trying to hire someone in need of childcare, a caregiver yourself, or someone who runs a daycare center, we’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives.
Please email Marcia at [email protected] if you can help.
The other report focuses on the firefighters. Most departments here and across the state have always relied on the selfless volunteers who devote countless hours to protecting lives and property for little compensation.
All our reporting staff will check how things are currently and whether the volunteer system is sustainable in the coming years and decades. We’ll explore ways to support volunteers, examine the cost of not having it, and share the stories of those who do so much for our safety.
Without you, we really cannot fully tell these stories.
Email comments to [email protected]