“Good news” about schools
On Wednesday, May 10, the Woodford County Board of Elections unanimously approved the ballot for the June 26 special election on the proposed property tax to pay for a new high school.
Folks who don’t turn to page two first - as several have told me they do with sincere expressions - have likely already seen a version of this lede on our front page.
Anyway, Monday morning, after proofing three school-related articles by the tireless Bob Vlach, I asked him, in a joking fashion, whether he needed to preview every school play and event. Bob patiently explained that it was called community journalism, and that he not only enjoyed such things, but, more important, felt this sort of coverage sets us apart from the crime/crash/fire/weather reportage of other outlets.
Left unsaid was that the chief offender in this regard happens to be local television news, which Dear Readers know I used to do. (The
Dearest Readers will recall my discomfort with this approach as the chief reason I left that more financially profitable arena.)
Bob was, of course, absolutely right.
I probably would have forgotten about that exchange had not, a half-hour later, someone asked whether we were going to report any good news about schools, citing a recent ranking of Woodford County High School as 13th best in the state. I explained that we hadn’t received a news release on the rankings, but I would look into it and write a news brief.
I did and I did. It’s on page 17.
The point is, we do cover - well, Bob does, mostly - lots of positive things about Woodford County schools. In fact, most every week Bob writes what most would consider positive news about our schools – and not just the public ones. St. Leo School students, in particular, were the subject of some fine articles and photos over the past year.
We have not editorialized on the school tax hike, which may be why, when we published the petition asking for a public vote, none of the signers or anyone else canceled their subscription.
For what it’s worth, I don’t have an opinion about it, and if I did, I wouldn’t share it on this page. I can barely make up my mind on what to wear each workday, and after I do, I often regret it.
However, my chief concern about editorializing, particularly about controversial local issues, is not the loss of subscribers, but rather the potential loss of trust in our news coverage. In other words, if we publish an opinion piece with my name on it, or an unnamed editorial from the Sun, people who differ with the conclusions therein may assume we’re slanting news coverage to reflect the paper’s stance.
Our job at the Sun, indeed the chief job of any community newspaper or other good journalistic enterprise, is to present the facts as best we can, as quickly as possible. In other words, as the saying goes, “To seek and tell the truth.” This doesn’t mean we don’t get things wrong from time to time, but when we do (and when they’re drawn to our attention), I hope folks are confident that we’ll publish a correction, retraction or clarification, posthaste.
So anyway …
These are exciting times in Woodford County. The primary election is next Tuesday, the school tax special election a month and four days later, and downtown Versailles and Midway are starting to hop. There’s a lot going on. If we don’t cover something you’re interested in, particularly something good, please believe that it’s not that we don’t care, but rather that we don’t always have the time or space to do all we’d wish.
And that sometimes I forget stuff. There is that.