Weekend Column – How Could You?

Sep 22, 2015 by

There always seems to be a bump in the universe whenever I take time off. Basically the world always implodes on some big issue.

Such was the case last week, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided to make some noise.

In a nutshell, they upheld yet another challenge to Obamacare. But the bigger news for most was the one recognizing/approving same-sex marriage.

The same-sex decision was the greatest triumph for freedom and equality in this century … or another notch in America’s slide down to Sodom and Gomorrah status. There’s little wiggle room or compromise on this issue.

We – the news staff and I – had discussed the possibility the ruling might come down while I was away. No worries, they had a plan in place. And sure enough, the decision came down and the newsroom did what it’s paid to do.

One of the greatest mentors in my life was always to the point. His answers to questions often had several layers of wisdom and you had to mull them over to really get everything he meant.

He once told me one of the most important things a boss should do is prepare for his or her death. Sounds morbid at first, but there are many layers to it. Does your staff know what to do if you aren’t around? Do you have a team in place to cover anything that comes up without you? Can your business survive without you? If not, why not?

I am fortunate to have such a staff. After the ruling came out, they took photographs and wrote stories about the decision. That included one story and an accompanying photo of two local women who’d applied for a marriage license at the probate court.

They didn’t call me about what to do, didn’t ask me to edit it, didn’t ask where they should play the story. They did what they are trained to do.

And that led to a couple of people canceling their subscription. How dare we publish such an abomination on the front page of a family newspaper?

Because it was news. And it’s probably one of the biggest stories in America so far in this century. And that means it goes on the front page and is played as the top news story for that day.

I think child molesters and those who beat up their significant others – domestic violence – are an abomination. Whenever possible, we put their mug shots on the front page as well as the accompanying story.

I have yet to hear of anyone canceling their newspaper over that.

Every day, we go over the next day’s possible stories. We ask ourselves what is the most important story, what is the second-most important. What story will have the greatest impact on the largest number of people? What do people need to know?

Some days we are scrambling to fill the paper. Other days we have to hold stories because we don’t have enough space.

It struck me that I am writing this column on Friday, July 3. You will read this column tomorrow, Saturday, July 4. Actually, you will read it “today” because tomorrow is now today. Just go with me on that.

July 4, today, is the day we celebrate our nation’s independence, the birth of our great country. Among the cornerstones of our government is the Bill of Rights, with the First Amendment that includes the phrase “freedom of the press.”

It is a right and a responsibility we take seriously.

We don’t write stories with the intention of having people cancel their subscriptions. We write to inform.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

Until next time.


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