Editorial: Good news, bad news situation
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel-Tribune Editor   
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:17
Jan Larson McLaughlin
What do you want first - the good news or the bad news?
As a newspaper, it's our job to give you both. You decide which you want to read first. It's our responsibility to tell you what is happening in your community, no matter how beautiful or ugly it may be.
We recently received a letter at the Sentinel-Tribune from a reader who had decided to not renew her subscription to the paper. She wrote that she was "disgusted" with the way the Sentinel-Tribune "sensationalizes the smallest negative details about our county schools."
I understand how some of our readers may view some news stories we publish as negative simply because they are explaining unpleasant issues. That's our job. We can't ignore issues just because some may see them as negative, messy or uncomfortable.
I'm not sure if the former reader was referring to coverage of Bowling Green City Schools, but we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't cover all the controversy around the last school levy request. We do our best to explain as many sides to a complicated issue as we can find.
But we also do our best to shine the spotlight on "good news." A scan of the last month's papers showed plenty of the stories that make us proud to live in Wood County. Specifically involving schools and students, there were several inches of space devoted to honor rolls and dean's lists.
There were heartwarming stories about local families with exchange students, and FFA students dedicated to agriculture. There was a feature about a local grad who runs marathons to raise awareness of MS, and there were photos of elementary students spending a Saturday doing science experiments. There was a full page of photos of local high school marching band members performing, and another of Friday night football. There were stories of student thespians taking the stage, and of two little girls who set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
We at the Sentinel-Tribune have never subscribed to the theory that only bad news sells papers. We realize that readers also deserve to see the good in their communities.
But it would be wrong for us to blindly cheer for what is right in our community without keeping a watchful eye for the wrong.
That same month scan of our paper quickly revealed some of those stories. The Luckey area family's home that exploded from a propane leak, killing two and injuring three. The Pemberville man who shot and killed a neighbor's dog that ran into his yard. The Northwood residents found guilty of cheating worker's compensation. The Perrysburg bicyclist killed when he fell in front of a vehicle. The lawsuit filed by the state against a Perrysburg solar firm that didn't live up to its agreements. And the Bowling Green father pleading guilty for his role in his 3-month-old son's death.
Few people would call those positive stories. But to ignore them would be wrong. I have always believed that the role of a good newspaper is to say to the community - this is what is going on ... now what are you going to do about it?
There are also those stories that may be negative to one reader and positive to another. For example, the recent story about the city of Bowling Green spending $500,000 to buy acreage for soccer fields was welcomed by those citizens whose kids crave soccer space, and was criticized by those who questioned the expense. I would just call that reality - with the readers deciding if they feel good, bad or indifferent about the topic.
And sometimes that reality is pretty messy - like the last North Baltimore Village Council meeting when angry words were hurled between officials. The deep divide between the two sides of the anti-fracking issue in Bowling Green. The questions of local school superintendents about the latest school scoring system from the state. The firing of a county public health official who was found to have acted inappropriately in his position. And the closing of the Perrysburg Heights Community Association Center after months of bickering between feuding factions.
We journalists actually like happy endings, but we also believe that in order to fix problems in our communities, we need to have our eyes open to the issues first.

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