Newspapers aim to empower readers | Publisher's Column

Reporters and editors often half-jokingly remark amongst themselves that they don’t become journalists for the money.

That’s drummed into journalism students starting in college. A professor told a group of us first-year Journalism 101 students to consider another major if money was the driving factor in our career choice.

So, what motivates a reporter?

I can only speak for myself and try to represent what I know about the many dedicated reporters I’ve worked with over the years. The common element seems to be that every reporter and editor wants to make a difference.

Weekly reporters produce mountains of news copy over their careers, and every once in a while a particular article resonates with readers.

For me, the quirky and the odd news items seemed to get a lot of comments. One article that grew legs quickly and resulted in changes for the better was an article I wrote many years ago about poor television cable service in Coupeville.

It wasn’t a world-changing subject, but it brought a response greater than I’d seen up to that point. People even attended town council meetings to address the subject.

More recently, our sister newspaper published articles about a series of burglaries on South Whidbey. Stories talked about who was burglarized, how the thieves got in and apparently got people thinking about how to safeguard their businesses.

This past weekend, either late Saturday or early Sunday morning, Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe was broken into, but the culprits didn’t get away with more than some change.

On his business’ Facebook page, owner Neil Colburn said articles in The Record and alerts from the Island County Sheriff’s office about the burglaries prompted him to remove cash from the building each night.

“That probably saved us two or three grand,” Colburn said.

Colburn’s story yielded the kind of results that fuel journalists. It may not be Watergate, but someone was helped because they read an article in the paper.

Information is power, and it’s our hope that our readers feel empowered by their community newspaper.

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