There are certain events you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Older Americans may remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned about the strike on Pearl Harbor. Grown men and women who were kids in high school or college when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated remember who they were with when they learned of his death. My generation remembers Sept. 11, 2001, when many of us had our usual morning classtime broken up by the news that, whether we realized it or not at the time, the world had just changed irrevocably and for the worse.
We will recall those classes — likely down to where we were sitting and who we were sitting with — until we die.
I will remember Hurricane Katrina for the rest of my life.
I had just turned 20. I was living at home, taking classes and working as a paraprofessional at an elementary school. I remember watching the news with growing horror as the death toll mounted and it seemed like too little was being done to help the people trapped in New Orleans as the levies broke and the flood waters continued to rise.
I had very little to offer back then in terms of aid. I didn’t have the skills or training to be a first-responder, even if I’d had time with work and school occupying my time. I wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, so I couldn’t very well contribute thousands of dollars to the cause. So I just kept watching the news and thinking about it a lot.
I paid more attention to the news in the last half of 2005 than I ever had before in my entire life. You can learn a lot from trustworthy news outlets, it turns out. That’s still the case.
Knowing more of the facts — with emphasis on facts, because sometimes even the news needs to be fact checked — can really change your worldview. Just as a side note, Snopes.com does wonders for fact checking.
Anyway, the next semester, I found myself enrolled in a journalism class. At the time, I wasn’t really sure I saw myself doing it for a career. I could write and write well, but at the time, I wanted to write fiction not fact and staying objective was a pain in the neck. All I knew was that journalism interested me.
I ended up with an English degree and a Bachelors of Science in Information Resource Services — not a journalism degree — from Emporia State University. Somehow, I ended up working for a newspaper anyway. I just couldn’t stay away.
I know local newspapers don’t reach quite as many people as, say, the Washington Post and more people watch their news on television or read it online (often, I’m sorry to say, on dubious sites and from dubious sources) than read it in print publications. However, we still have the ability to reach people and we still have the responsibility to keep you informed to the extent that we can. This is what we try to do.
We’re not a gossip rag, so sometimes the news we report on isn’t as exciting as you might find linked on Facebook. We don’t generally produce anything that could be called clickbait. Sometimes the stories that matter the most to you and your wellbeing are rather boring.
We also don’t cater to people. We’re not going to tell you something just because you want to hear it.
The internet has made it extremely easy for people of all backgrounds and belief systems to create little echo chambers for themselves and that’s not what we are, nor I hope will we ever be.
So you may find yourself disagreeing with something you read in the newspaper and that’s okay. Please just remember we’re working our hardest to do our jobs to the best of our ability.
Journalism isn’t easy if you’re doing it right. That’s probably true of any job worth doing. At some point, you just start doing it because you love it and possibly because you’re a tiny bit crazy.