I frequently get emails or phone calls asking: Why did you put this in the paper? Don’t you have anything better to report? Don’t you know that what you published is not news?
Two recent cases in point:
In one email, a reader criticized us for publishing a story about a state police investigation into a potential “inappropriate” relationship between a Pocono Mountain School District teacher and a student.
This email was a bit of a head-scratcher. The police issued a statement about the investigation and the story had been picked up by several media outlets. If I were a parent in that district, I sure as heck would want to know that this kind of thing was being looked into.
Here you have a person of authority in a position of trust who is on the public payroll who is being investigated for possible improprieties. I’m at a loss about how such an investigation does NOT constitute news.
Another reader weighed in and was critical of our short story Tuesday about the closing of what had been Mollie’s Restaurant in downtown Stroudsburg.
“I just want to know why the Pocono Record seems to just love publishing negative articles about our area. Why did you publish it? There was nothing newsworthy in this; everyone who was a customer of Mollie’s knew it was closed and the Winehandles owners were gone,” the letter writer said, in part.
We’re in the business of telling readers what we know. In this case, the news was belated because we had been trying to reach the owners for comment and then we were overtaken by other non-Mollie’s news coverage that held our attention captive for a while.
Eventually, after fruitless efforts to reach the owners and after some of the other news stories settled down, I decided it was time to publish the story.
For me, the passing of a 30-year local institution should not go unremarked upon in a community newspaper and hence, it constitutes news.
Those who once patronized the eatery and who moved from the area may not have known of its demise. Thanks to the Web, they now will.
It’s also newsworthy in a way that nostalgia is something that brings us together. It’s a shared experience like: “Hey, remember that place where we used to have breakfast? Well, it’s closed now.”
I find that in circumstances like these, even those who did know of its closing are seeking some affirmation of what happened. By publishing such a story, it makes the closing “official.”