‘Tell the good stories, too’

Published 10:29 pm Saturday, February 14, 2015

“Y’all are doing a good job. Keep up the good work.”

The encouragement was from Jack Nurney, a longtime supporter of the Suffolk News-Herald and one of the people I’ve come to admire and respect the most in Suffolk since I returned home to take over as editor of this newspaper. We were chatting together after this week’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Suffolk.

Then he leaned in and said something even more important: “Now, don’t forget to tell the good stories, too.”

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Such simple pearls of wisdom are among the things I’ve grown to respect the most about Jack Nurney.

Don’t neglect the good news.

Good news is one of the things that sets a community newspaper apart from the large metro papers of the world. Especially to those on the receiving end of skewering columns and exposés, sometimes it can seem that newspapers exist only to tell folks about the bad things happening around them.

At the Suffolk News-Herald, however, we take some pride in the fact that we tell far more sweet stories than bitter ones. We believe in letting people know about their neighbors and friends who are doing positive things in the community, and we spend quite a bit of time and space doing just that.

Just this week, we’ve written about a father-daughter Valentine’s Day dance at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School, Farm Fresh employees delivering balloons to patients at Sentara Obici Hospital, sheriff’s deputies delivering Valentine’s cards made by Elephant’s Fork Elementary School students for residents at Autumn Care nursing home, Suffolk students participating in a Governor’s School performance of Evita, the police department’s new chaplain program, a woman celebrating her 100th birthday and the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Paul D. Camp Community College nursing program.

And that list doesn’t even count the dean’s list, business and military announcements that regularly appear in Sunday’s editions.

Notwithstanding the crime stories and the occasional article revealing some controversy in local government or the school system, good news is the bread and butter of our coverage. In fact that’s one of the reasons I love this job so much. It’s also one of the reasons I avoid television news, with its focus on crime and death. If that were our focus, I think I’d be perpetually depressed.

Telling interesting stories about people engaged in doing positive things in their community helps restore my hope, and I suspect that’s what Jack Nurney was reminding me of outside of Rotary this week.

Readers who pick up a copy of next Sunday’s paper will get a heaping helping of good news, as we’ll be publishing our annual Strides edition, which focuses exclusively on such stories.

In the past couple of years, we’ve explored 50 of the reasons we love Suffolk. This year’s theme is “Suffolk Around the Clock,” and we sent our writers out to find stories about 24 different people and events that demonstrate the kinds of things happening in this city at all hours of the day and night.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the types of things going on while you’re asleep, and you’ll learn some things you might not have known about the people who keep our fine city running.

Even more than the controversial stories that result in dozens of online comments and letters to the editor, our Strides edition is the type of journalism that reminds us why we love to call Suffolk “home.”

I hope you’ll be sure to grab a copy.