Lately, as I look through the paper in its entirety, I’ve been struck again and again by the same thought — everything in this newspaper really matters to someone.
Weekly newspapers are an eclectic blend of so many things, from local high school student success to the sheriff’s blotter, grand openings, fundraisers, and thorough reports on important decisions from committees in the area, from the hospital to the board of directors.
Despite being in a rural area, we journalists still run across stories that are tragic in nature. These tragedies, due to the tight-knit communities of our area, are reported not only as professionals, but also as human beings living within the community itself.
We publish the honor roll and obituaries, and various things that, when wedged between the bookends of childhood and older age, make up the lives that make up our communities.
One such recent event that has been widely reported upon and touched many locally has been the Camp Fire out of Butte County. I have never been more proud of my local community than when, left and right, people came together to give aide to fire refugees, with many aid efforts kicking up on the very same day as the fire itself.
Donations were made, collected, organized and driven to various evacuation areas in the vicinity of the fire, and with every weighty report of loss and destruction, I can honestly say that there has been yet another story of hope and triumph to match it.
A local in the Eastern Plumas area, Caitlin Comstock, coordinated a relief effort on the day of the horrific blaze out of the Healthy Bodies Gym in Portola and Quincy, and reminded us all that “if you are not working for your community, then you are not part of that community, you just live there.”
I know with certainty that we should celebrate our communities, and community journalism matters just as much.
Maybe the latest news from City Hall won’t go viral, perhaps the latest fundraiser for a worthy cause didn’t make national headlines. These seemingly small things, however, in communities across the county and the world, give purpose to all of our lives.
The face looking out from the page of the obituary is one that a dearly beloved family has lost to time, and a final farewell to a community that likely knew more than there was room to print about that person.
The grand opening of a business could be the culmination of a childhood dream. The donations made to the local food bank allow a family to gather around the table without worrying if there is enough to fill each plate. The honor roll goes up on the fridge, of course, because it is a reminder to a young student that he or she can truly flourish when effort is applied.
Journalism matters, more than ever, because people matter. Roughly half of the world’s population lives in small communities, and in the pages of their newspapers, they see themselves and the ones that they love.