Opinion

Living with the news

As the old saying goes, “No news is good news.”  That is, of course, unless you’re in the news business.

And for those of us who are in the news business, last week was some week. In addition to the scheduled things, such as school board and city council meetings, there was a whole lot of breaking news.

Within just a few days, a man on a skateboard was hit by a car, there was a fatal house fire, a woman was stabbed, although later we learned it was self-inflicted; the body of a middle-aged woman was found in a drainage ditch, and a local Navy pilot was hit and killed while riding his motorcycle.

Years ago, when breaking news happened, a reporter went to the scene and came back and wrote something for the next day’s paper. Today, a reporter goes to the scene, gets the basics and a photo, posts it to the paper’s website and to social media, usually Facebook. News is immediate and as the story progresses, updates are posted. The most complete story possible by deadline goes in the paper. But in many ways, the story never ends. There’s always a follow up to be written and sometimes, reason to publish results of official investigations into these incidents.

With the events of last week, our readers were able to stay up to date through our posts to our websites and to our Facebook page. The information was there for our readers to know without having to pay for a subscription. And as each of these stories developed, and new details emerged, that information was shared with everyone, helping to create a better picture of what was going on in each of these situations.

And speaking of pictures, we originally posted a photograph taken at the scene of the fatal motorcycle accident. The reporter who was on the scene and took the photograph later learned that she had just recently interviewed the wife of the victim for a story about the couple’s work with a program called Dogs on Deployment which was published in our March issue of Veterans Life.

When friends of the family called concerned about the photograph, we assured them that the victim was not in the photograph, only his motorcycle helmet. But when they asked, we took the photograph off our website so that there would be no misunderstanding.

For reporters, breaking news means balancing the need to do a job and get information with the ability to understand and react to the urgency and emotions of the situation. In these events, we strive to be an observer, ask questions in a sensitive manner and be respectful of the victims and their families. Many times family and friends of the victims want to share their memories with us, although we understand when they don’t.

Our commitment to you, our readers, is to provide you with the most news possible in the most complete way we can, be it in print or on our website, or via social media.

 

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