News is sometimes a tough balance
While all of us at the Tribune feel fortunate to be employed in the newspaper industry, one of the unfortunate byproducts our employment is regular criticism. It’s normal, and to be expected when your words are read by nearly everybody in the community. And we do have a regular habit of making typos, misjudgments, gaffs and downright errors Ð which people are happy to catch, and happy to let us know about.
After awhile, after you’ve worked at a bunch of newspapers in a bunch of small towns, you come to realize it’s par for the course. We always try to do our best, but here and there the criticism gets to you. You realize many people’s opinions are shaped by what they see on “Hannity & Colmes,” “Hardball,” or other junk TV shows, and you realize it is out of your control. Newspapers are scapegoated for all the world’s problems, are portrayed as “sensational” or “biased,” and frankly don’t get the credit they deserve for the good they do in the community.
In a recent e-mail, one of our readers insinuated the Tribune is “unpatriotic,” that we have undercovered events related to Memorial Day or Flag Day, and that this is a disservice to our local veterans. I promised our letter writer I would consider his point of view, but starting thinking about how we could do better.
Sure, we could interview local veterans on every patriotic holiday, tell their histories, tell the history of the holiday, but how much is too much? Regularly, we do these stories (not every holiday), and regularly we attend events with Color Guard and rifle salutes, etc. (We do this just about every holiday.) In the last year I can recount three events we have attended and reported on, including a beautiful photo essay for a Friday Sierra Scene section.
Of course we appreciate the sacrifices of our military – whether it is in peace time, past wars or in current action in Iraq and Afghanistan – so telling similar stories in new ways is sometimes difficult. We regularly run stories of local and regional active military men and women in these hot spots. When readers let us know what or whom they would like to read about, we do our best to make it happen.
This is also something we thought about with Fourth of July approaching.
Independence Day is perhaps the most patriotic of American holidays: the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, the sacrifices of the United States’ first patriotic military men. But shift to Lake Tahoe, modern day, and the story is a bit more complex…
Now Fourth of July is about Americanism and sacrifice, but it is also about barbecues and fireworks. It’s about crowds at Stateline and the busiest boating day of the year. The newspaper has to tell these stories because that’s what people are talking about. It doesn’t make us unpatriotic, but we do have to strike a balance.
We try to make our balance of stories relative to the balance of the interests of our readers. If the newspaper is not reporting the stories you care about, call or e-mail us. It’s how we get most of our story ideas. And to the military men and women following the tradition of the forefathers who fought to establish this country, we could not be more grateful for what you do. Of course it is you who has made days like the Fourth of July worth celebrating.
– Jim Scripps, managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, can be contacted at email@example.com.
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