Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

January 18, 2012

Beating up the messenger never goes out of style

Jan. 18, 2012 —     Last week’s mail brought us a scathing letter from a highly respected person who took us to the woodshed over the recent content of our newspaper.

    He roundly criticized us for the epidemic of crime stories which have dominated our front pages for weeks, including the holidays.

    Why, he asked, couldn’t we find space in each issue for one or two “good” news stories that didn’t contain words like rape, sex, assault, indicted, and stealing.

    He even listed some “feel good” stories that we might have covered.

    We agree that a soldier coming home to spend Christmas with his family or a holiday surprise for those less fortunate is always a welcome relief from what seems like the weekly chronicle of crime.

    Actually, those issues did have some positive stories but most were on inside pages. Good news often is harder to find than the ugly things people do to each other.

    Despite the occasional criticism about content, I’m proud to report that our print and online readership have steadily expanded over the last year or so.

    We believe that is happening because we are providing a professional looking, well written newspaper that reports the facts without fear or favoritism.

    Our critic from last week is a public person whom we respect and whose approval we would like to have.

    But now he appears to have joined those who want to beat up the messenger for bringing the bad news.

    The standard response among journalists to those who criticize news content is to remind everyone that we don’t make the news, we just report it.

    That may seem flippant but it is actually what happens, particularly at community newspapers like ours which don’t have reporters dedicated to investigative or sensational stories.

    In fact, the economic pressures on our industry are so intense that we are fortunate to have enough folks to cover the most important events and activities that affect the lives of the majority of our citizens.

    Like it or not, we live in violent times. The drug culture threatens to overwhelm us with lawlessness. The bad economy also has created more criminals.

    Amid this chaos, we believe our readers need and want to know what is happening around them.

    And, as long as we can keep our heads above the muck and mire, we’ll keep reporting the news as it happens, not as we might wish it to be.

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