Throughout my seven years in local news, one sentence has been a constant, whether I’m in Alabama, my old home, or Florida, my new one.
“That’s why we do what we do.”
Coincidentally, it’s Volunteers of America’s slogan, paraphrased, but the sentiment is genuine.
It typically doesn’t come with general government or crime reporting, or with hotly debated issues — the kinds of stories many readers assume we live for.
Granted, reporting on those issues occasionally elicits positive feedback that unifies the community. And we do enjoy reporting on board meetings for public service.
However, all the publishers, editors, reporters and page designers I’ve worked with said the same sentence when news reflected the community, or a member of it, in a way that compelled readers to give back.
We said it when the news didn’t end with the printed page or web post, and somehow, took on a life of its own.
Six years ago, I reported on a woman’s concerns for her grandchild who had no place to play since an Alabama park was not wheelchair accessible. That wasn’t a concern a year later after some recreation board and city council decisions.
A few weeks ago, a Crestview reader shared that a resident donated something she couldn’t afford because of a quote that reporter Brian Hughes collected. (The details are unimportant, and we’d like to respect the privacy of that situation.)
And over the past week, readers came together to praise and support their neighbor Danny Parker, featured Oct. 26 in our Down syndrome series.
Hearing from Gloria Cottrell, whose full comment appears in today’s Hubbub, was awesome. Hughes quoted Parker as saying, “I used to have Down syndrome,” which sums up how much the genetic disorder hinders the Wal-Mart employee: none.
That inspired Cottrell’s family, who just happened to read about Parker’s story as they welcomed a grandchild with Down syndrome into the world.
“Thank you for writing this story and showing others what these special people can do,” she writes.
Then there were Crestview High School and Baker School’s remarkable wins Friday night. (See, "Bulldogs' first victory over Niceville in 31 years 'a long time coming'" and "Baker head football coach: 'We are back' following district title")
Few things bring communities together like football. And major victories like the Bulldogs’ beating Niceville the first time since 1982, and the Gators earning their sole District 1-1A championship since 2001 are other examples of why enjoy our jobs.
This is a newspaper, so we must report on tough issues, too. Today’s editorial cartoon reflects the possibility that Crestview residents who don’t or can’t drive could lose their sole means of transportation.
Next Wednesday’s edition will focus on William Lundy, whose Confederate flag memorial in Crestview has been the subject of debate at crestviewbulletin.com.
And there’s more to come.
We can’t ignore those issues, but let’s take some of the goodwill we built while covering the other stories, and bring similar compassion and understanding of diverse viewpoints as these debates escalate.