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Community Journalism Still Plays Important Role

Community journalism is different. While it has become fashionable for people to downgrade newspapers and the media in general, readers should remember that newspapers like this one play positive and important roles for their areas, Although we serve as a watchdog of government officials to make sure that our taxpayers are represented fairly and legally, community newspapers’ goals aren’t to spread rumors or make accusations with the simple purpose of increasing their circulations.

Community journalism means living, working and enjoying time side to side with our readers. We aren’t part of a corporation that is multiple states away, but rather our privately owned paper does well when you do well. We count on each other.

What that means is giving you quality coverage and needed information, but reaching those accomplishments while also having a heart.

I feel an example of community journalism occurred when I was covering a homicide case in Sidney. When I was taking photos of a school FFA activity at the high school, I received a text that the family was notified that the missing victim, who was a very popular teacher, was in fact killed. I remember telling the FFA instructor that I needed to get out of the building because some bad news was going to be announced soon at the school. He sadly knew what news that was likely going to be.

Around those days, there were plenty of camera crews throughout the town of Sidney covering the abduction incident. I guess a big time, hard-nosed journalist might have tried to hang around the FFA event longer, wait for announcement and then take photos of students in tears. I knew, however, this was a time that the students and teachers needed to be alone to deal with their grief.

Near the end of the school day, there were camera crews perched across the street. They were waiting to take shots of emotional students leaving the building. Being a community journalist, I wasn’t one of them.

That night, a public service was held in the gym. I did take photos there of adults singing hymns in memory of the local native who made such a great difference in that city. It was a much more appropriate time to take a photo during a challenging time for many of the area’s residents.

I feel readers in small towns are fortunate that community journalism still exists, at least, in these areas. They can count of important local topics being covered in a fair and honest matter. After all, we’re your neighbor and working together with you.

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