I had a nice conversation Monday with the writer of today’s Letter to the Editor concerning the lack of coverage for Shoal River Middle School’s remarkable basketball team.
Mr. Campbell in his letter says he’s disappointed “in the lack of interest by this paper and its sports staff to give equal representation” to other sports teams.
Indeed, most of the News Bulletin’s sports coverage goes to high school sports. However, this outcome is due to having one sports editor who cannot be in all places at once.
The newspaper’s staff is very much interested in covering all grade levels of youth sports in some capacity.
There’s just one man in our newsroom for the job, but there are countless parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others who can help. Most attendees of middle school games and other underreported athletic events — and community events — own or have access to digital cameras and computers; they can help ensure their teams and organizations get the level of equal representation Mr. Campbell writes about.
CNN’s iReport allows anyone to submit photos, video and audio so citizen journalism can cover what CNN bureaus can’t.
The News Bulletin doesn’t have a name for its outreach effort, but we want you to know this option is available.
Of course, we’ve extended the invitation to middle school coaches, community organizations, teachers, administrators and other newsmakers in Crestview, Baker and Laurel Hill — with little response and ignored email and voicemail. (Yes, we noticed that, and noted it each time.)
Occasionally, more letters will roll in accusing the newspaper of bias or lack of interest in something, and the newsroom will write more emails to school administrators, teachers, coaches, community organizations and others, politely inviting them to help keep the community informed. We’ll post Facebook messages offering the invitation; they will get several likes, but little will happen.
So let’s be clear.
If Crestview, Baker or Laurel Hill residents submit something to the News Bulletin — whether it’s a community or service organization’s upcoming public event or activity, a church offi cer election or fish fry announcement, a blurb about a business opening or major achievement, photos from last night’s middle school basketball game or anything else of reasonable public interest — we will cover it in some way, shape or form.
That doesn’t mean everyone’s submissions can run in print; although, at times, that may be the case. It does mean that we will report on every topic we know about, at least once (not from multiple submitters), in print or online or both.
This is your newspaper, and we want to tell your stories. We opened this Opinion page for you last fall because we want your diverse views to make the public record. Our reporters do a great job covering city government and other “hard news,” but we want readers to know about the smaller, feel-good news, too: that amazing middle school basketball game, the science project that won the fair or the show and tell where students dressed up as presidents.
Email relevant news items, photos with captions and even stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the community comes together and uses the tools available to them — free, no less — we promise not to disappoint.
Contact News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni at 850-682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbEditor.