No good news, you say? Allow us to present the 2010 Progress editionIf there’s one thing we journalists get tired of hearing, it’s that old refrain about how the newspaper only contains “bad news.” Readers who say that to reporters, editors and the publisher at this newspaper are liable to get a polite earful. It’s simply false to say that our newspaper is full of bad news.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
If there’s one thing we journalists get tired of hearing, it’s that old refrain about how the newspaper only contains “bad news.”
Readers who say that to reporters, editors and the publisher at this newspaper are liable to get a polite earful. It’s simply false to say that our newspaper is full of bad news.
I keep the past week’s worth of front pages tacked to a wall in my office. As of the writing of this column on Aug. 17, those front pages included a feature story about a group of Catholic nuns from across the globe who visited Mitchell, a photo of Dimock-Emery amateur baseball players celebrating their state championship, a preview story about Dakotafest and its positive impact on the Mitchell area, an account of attempts to improve the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, two stories on the Mitchell United Way Day of Caring, a profile of a Chamberlain native who is serving in the military in Afghanistan, and a story about the sellout of tickets for the Kenny Rogers show at the Corn Palace.
That’s just a quick rundown of locally produced stories on the front pages. Were you to turn inside those newspapers, you’d find dozens more “good news” stories.
You’d find lots of “bad news” stories, too — stories about crime, controversial public debates, rising health-care costs and the like. The reason you’ll find such a mix is because we at The Daily Republic don’t really think of news as being “bad” or “good.” We just think of it as news.
Take the nuns story, for example. That tip came to us from the public. I thought it was newsworthy, so I assigned a reporter to cover it.
Had someone called and said a local nun had just been arrested for murder, that would have been newsworthy, too.
For me, and for most other journalists, determining the newsworthiness of a particular story is merely a process of determining its interest and importance. We ask these kinds of questions: Will the story be interesting to a broad cross-section, or at least a healthy sub-section, of our readers? Even if readers may not be interested in the story, is it important enough to their lives that they should be interested? If it’s a feature, does it pack enough emotional punch to make our readers smile, cry or maybe even curse?
That’s the process we go through when we consider what to write about. When a vicious crime is committed, for example, it’s not a desire to sell additional papers that motivates us to cover the story. The reason we cover
the story is because we know our readers will want to know who committed the crime, who was hurt, how their public safety officials handled the
situation, etc. In short, we cover things like vicious crimes because
we know our readers want us to. Yet, many of those same readers will see our coverage of a vicious crime and remark to their spouse while reading the paper that “all The Daily Republic ever prints is bad news.” That’s
just part of our business, I guess.
Still, we can defend ourselves by pointing out all the positive things we cover every day. And then there’s the annual Progress edition, which you are now holding in your hands. It’s the one time of year that we actually do choose stories just because they represent “good news.”
Every year, we devote at least three full sections of newsprint — a whopping total of 54 pages this year — to nothing but pure, unadulterated
positivity. We send reporters to virtually every city in our 17-county coverage area and tell them to find “good” stories — stories that indicate progress.
In this year’s Progress edition, you’ll find stories about people joining together to build or improve parks, bolster their children’s education, preserve their local history, grow their economy and honor their veterans, among many other things.
You’ll find informational boxes with each story that contain three things: the town’s estimated population, taxable sales and fall school enrollment for each of the past three years. We think the statistics — from the Census Bureau, the state Department of Revenue and Regulation, and the state Department of Education — provide another way to gauge progress in each of the cities we’ve profiled.
So, the next time somebody tells you there’s nothing but bad news in The Daily Republic, tell them to take a closer look. And, if you have it
handy, give them a copy of the Progress edition. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Seth Tupper is the editor of The Daily Republic.