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Too much bad news on Page 1? Really?

Joe Centers • May 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I met with students recently from the Teen Leadership Corps of Norwalk High School.

It’s a great program started by Marianne Creamer, a St. Paul High School graduate, who has been there since day one.

We were at Norwalk Middle School, talking with students in the Junior Leadership Academy. They invited me because the students had all written letters to the editor.

Here, in part, is what it was all about:

“Norwalk High School’s Teen Leadership Corps class is piloting a program at Norwalk High Middle School called the Junior Leadership Academy. Our mission is to instill leadership qualities, character and professional attitudes at a younger level so that those students coming to the high school in years to come will be primed for taking more responsibility.

“As part of our curriculum, we have assigned our second-semester class to write letters to your newspaper because they feel that they have seen too many negative stories on the front page.

“This is in no way meant to disrespect the authorities and talents in your business. The purpose of this assignment is to make the students understand the give-and-take nature of society, in which, should they see a problem that needs fixed, it is their responsibility to do something about it.”

I hear this a lot. One of the first things Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said to a gathering at Berry’s Restaurant to a group of local businessmen is we need more good news to read. Local economic people tell us all of the time bad news will chase potential businesses away.

When I hear this, I wonder what people are reading. There is bad news, but most of it is confined to the “For the Record” pages inside the Reflector, not on the front page. People say we have too many drug stories in the paper. Do you read other papers or look at the nightly news? Drugs are a problem.

When we publish stories about the cops busting the drug dealers, that’s about crime, but that is a good story.

I took a look at the last week of the Norwalk Reflector and this is what I saw on Page 1.

May 17: A picture of Slider at League Elementary; Main Street students excel at science fair; Mourning father warns WR students about dangers of distracted drivers; pictures of the jet car races at Pleasant Elementary and Norwalk Catholic School.

May 19: Prom pictures from St. Paul, Monroeville and Western Reserve high schools; Airport “very important” to local farmers; South Central High School top five graduates; and Edison Elementary stresses importance of physical education.

May 20: Norwalk sixth- and eighth-graders win tri-county championships; Council talks natural gas, water/sewer discounts; Sales tax remains county bright spot; Mayor punished for parking in handicap spot; and Accused sex offender, 12 others incited by Huron County grand jury.

May 21: Teacher of the year, Norwalk’s top teacher “humbled” by her “incredibly blessed career”; “All by myself” — Huron County Airport like a man without a country; Briarfield to change hands; and Natural-gas program headed to ballot.

May 22: Teachers’ union, Edison agree on 2-year pact; Eviction notice has women baffled, angry; Milan’s Civil War monument to undergo facelift; and Clyde grad hired as Norwalk High School athletic director.

May 23: Residents seek state probe into power co. investment; Antique store opens in Wakeman; and Willard top five graduates.

May 24: Norwalk woman accused of murder; Graves Implement destroyed by fire; EHOVE sends off 372 students; and St. Paul top five graduates.

Just a quick check shows of the 28 front-page news items, exactly half of them were school-related stories or pictures. Twelve were news stores and just two were crime related.

The letter from the Teen Leadership Corps said “This is in no way meant to disrespect the authorities and talents in your business.”

I think it did.

Joe Centers is the Reflector managing editor. He can be reached via e-mail at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.

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