Too much negativity? July 21, 2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

Sorry for the absence in recent days. It seems everyone who knew how to post the blog was either out sick or on vacation n good planning.

I spoke Monday to the Eastover-Wilroy Ruritans. While it was a small group, we had a lively exchange that lasted far beyond that for which I had planned.

After my usual schpiel about what we've done here at the paper and what we hope to accomplish. I noted that while our circulation numbers are far less than what they need to be, we have surpassed 4,600 n probably a 60 percent increase in actual paid distribution over about five years. This while most newspapers are struggling to keep their circulation declines in check.

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When asked why I thought this was n that newspapers are losing readership n I started spouting stuff I've read about corporate media ownership and people no longer having trust in a newspaper that has television interests dependent on its good relationship with the government, people accustomed now to being able to access information for free, the general decline in readership, etc.

Homeless Shelter Board Chairman Cola Cobb, a member of the club and attendee at the meeting, said he thought it had to do with all the negativity in the news. Mr. Cobb told me about how he and other Shelter board members started the shelter from scratch and built it into one of the best in the state n despite a lack of support from the city or other traditional funding sources. He said that fact is never cited in news reports which only focus on the bad things that have happened there n families evicted at holidays, the executive director's resignation and the state police probe.

He said newspapers owed it to readers to tell the good stories, too.

There wasn't a lot I could do except stand there and take, because he was right. Where the shelter is concerned, most of what has been reported has been unfavorable. And that's unfortunate for the all the good, hard-working, caring local folks who have put so much of their precious time, effort and money into doing something to improve our community.

Mr. Cobb did, however, thank me for the editorial in last Sunday's paper, which he said was the first positive thing printed about the shelter that he can recall.

I sincerely believe the shelter board is on its way to getting its house in order and that it does a play a vital role in our community. I look forward to being able to report more of the good things happening there.

Incidentally, the apple cobbler served at the meeting was among the best I've ever had, and I earned every bite of it.

I appreciate the Ruritans having me out. While I'm not the most dynamic public speaker in the world, it's enjoyable. The Ruritans gave me a lot of good pointers on improving the News-Herald and I hope to be able to accommodate their requests.