He threw The Blade against the French doors, shouted a few expletives, and went back to eating his bologna sandwich.
After he left, I picked up the paper and tried to determine what set him off. I couldn’t. I was too young. The only sections I read were sports and the comics. I did determine, however, from scanning the paper, that he was upset with government.
Fast forward 50 years and you will find taped to my desk this saying in honor of that man: “Inform me. Make me laugh, care and cry. Most of all make me so angry I’ll throw my paper against the wall.”
Our primary role as a constitutionally-protected free press in America is to be the watchdog on government. I hope you too have thrown your paper against the wall angry at what we have reported about government misfeasance, malfeasance and skullduggery.
Over the years, Press reporters have written award-winning investigative stories about misuse of political power or misuse of taxpayer dollars. Two of our editors, Larry Limpf and Kelly Kaczala, have been with The Press 36 and 23 years respectively. They know your communities. They have dedicated their careers to being your watchdogs. Just last year, Kaczala, along with freelance journalist Melissa Burden, wrote a series of stories about a 28-minute response time to a 9-1-1 call. A man died and the City of Northwood, in response to the stories, changed its EMS protocol to better protect its citizens.
These two editors, as well as Tammy Walro and Pat Eaken, have recently contributed to three in-depth special reports addressing such topical issues as how pets are cared for by veterinarians; how young college graduates enter the workforce with so much debt it impacts their ability to reach the middle class and how young people can achieve financial success without a bachelor’s degree. These reports are still timely and can be found on our Web site.
Our reporters have also written many stories to better your life. Walro recently wrote about an Oregon woman who shared her experience with a little known process called cold-cap therapy which prevented her hair from falling out during chemo therapy. Burden wrote about a woman who warned you about the possible dangers of surgical mesh implants.
Our reporters have also celebrated your successes as well as the achievements of your children. We print college graduation lists, student of the month ads and a special section honoring the Top Ten graduates of each high school. Eaken heads a sports department that has grown significantly since he was named sports editor in 2002. Today, with the support of Alan Miller Jewelers, The Press recognizes outstanding student-athletes by publishing All-Press teams in most sports.
All this costs money and as we are a free paper our advertisers support this mission. One of my goals when I first came to The Press was to create the busiest marketplace in our market area. That meant pricing our product and dedicating enough resources to provide you with the highest volume of local goods and services in a print product. Our display and classified departments work hard to do that. We publish an average of 397 ads per issue in addition to delivering thousands of flyers.
These ads help meet your needs as consumers while increasing the customer base for our clients. They also help fulfill dreams. I will never forget the little girl who answered a classified ad I placed to sell my daughter’s first bike. It was to be her first bike, too. She paid me $10 in quarters. The light in her eyes and the smile on her face gave me a new appreciation on how we can make dreams come true.
We also help those less fortunate and those facing a crisis. In one instance, we wrote about a young cancer victim whose insurance company wouldn’t pay for a bone marrow transplant. We donated ads to publicize a benefit that raised more than $18,000. Over the years, we have written many such stories and donated many ads to community groups so they can use their limited resources to deliver services to those in need.
Our Press team is proud of the contributions we make to your community. The average seniority here is 19 years. You don’t stay at a weekly paper that long unless you are having a positive effect on your community. But, all of our work would mean nothing if our circulation staff and 72 independent carriers didn’t do their jobs. Some of these carriers have been with us for more than 25 years. In the last five years, they have averaged less than 10 complaints a week.
Leading this team has been both a pleasure and a rewarding experience. I have also had the opportunity to write more than 1,200 columns. I recently reprinted 50 of them in a book entitled “Common People, Uncommon Challenges.”
These are my favorite stories, stories about your neighbors who have met uncommon challenges head on with passion, courage and determination.
It is my hope The Press will be around another 40 years bringing you a busy marketplace, information you can use and stories that inspire you, while barking at government like the watchdog you trust us to be.