Taking the 'good' with the 'bad' when it comes to our coverage
The two reasons most given as to why people do not read the local newspaper are not enough time and too much negative news.
The first reason hurts. Our goal at The Newnan Times-Herald is to become a “must read” for our county’s residents. We continue to strive to be the ultimate news and advertising venue for our customers. To that end, you will see additional changes in the coming weeks to better situate the Times-Herald as a “must read” — whether in print or online.
No, we are not touching the comics. Everyone relax. But we are going to be increasing our local entertainment and business coverage. Those were highlighted as among the key areas we needed to improve in our recent readership survey. Those changes are under way and will soon be showing up in the paper. We are working on improving the color reproduction in the newspaper. All of us here cringe when a great photo or ad doesn’t turn out correctly.
As to the issue of too much negative news, that is a matter of opinion. The readership survey showed some thought we covered too much crime, others wanted more; the majority thought it was about right. There’s an old newspaper saying among journalists that we never cover the fact all the planes took off and landed safety at the airport yesterday. That’s not news because that’s what’s expected and what we all want to have occur. It is news when an airplane crashes — that is out of the ordinary.
Journalists tend to shy away from defining news as good or bad. It’s news. It’s what is happening. A fatal fire breaks out, destroying the residence and killing one person. Firefighters rushed in and saved two others, but not before a roof collapsed on one firefighter, sending him to the hospital. Is that a great rescue story, a horribly tragedy story, or both? Are crimes and subsequent arrests good or bad? The crime is bad, the arrest is good.
We do not see news, therefore, as negative. It is simply the reporting of facts of the events that occurred. That is what we do - cover our community the best we can. None of us here ever want to hear a call for the coroner, whether it is a shooting, a vehicle accident or a fire. Yet we go out and cover those events because they are news. And yes, we put them on the front page because, fortunately, it is so out of the ordinary.
And we don’t want to cover it again. And that’s why we ask if the driver was wearing a seat belt, were alcohol or drugs involved, was the driver speeding, was there a working smoke detector. All of those factors can change an outcome, can save a life. So we not only report what happened, but point out the other facts so readers realize we can reduce these tragedies.
A glance of last week’s headlines would, at first, lead one to think there’s a lot of crime. A store clerk shot, two separate arrests for meth, counterfeit bills, two felons with active warrants involved in high speed chases, robbery suspects with drugs and guns, Internet fraud, government contract fraud and so forth. Yet all were arrested or indicted.
On the other hand, there was a big fundraiser for Camp Southern Ground, a new recycling center is opening, The Newnan Centre and Goodwill have opened, a local weightlifter is off to an international competition, West Georgia Technical College is opening its new campus, a teenager pulls a wedding ring out of a storm drain, and much more.
We are continuing to evolve. We instituted several changes and, as mentioned, more are coming. Our goal, as stated before, is to become a “must-read.” And we continue to push ourselves to become that for every Coweta County resident.
And to that end, we appreciate your comments and suggestions.