Answering the Call
You never know who is going to be on the other end of the phone.
On Tuesday this week, it was a father who had just learned that Narrowsburg Home had closed and he was desperate to locate his 40-year old son who had lived there.
His call was transferred to the editor who told him where residents had been relocated.
A few hours later, the father called again. The facilities would not give him information. They hung up on him, he said.
We suggested that he call the Department of Health, as that is the department that regulates adult care homes, and who had closed the home due to unsafe conditions.
A bit later, he called again. He still had not been able to find out any information about his son.
This time the editor suggested he speak with an Assemblywoman who could help. He called Aileen Gunther’s office, and was instructed to have the father call them.
This is precisely the community work of the Assemblywoman’s office. If anyone can help this father locate his son, it is Aileen.
I was proud of the paper’s contribution.
It was a good bit of community journalism, I told the staff the next day at our weekly Wednesday morning staff meeting. The paper was the only responsive entity that listened and was empathetic to that father’s story. We gave him the information that he needed.
And we will follow up and tell that story.
We tell the story because as a community we’re accountable to each other. And so the question becomes: How do we hold our institutions and our governments accountable for their actions and hold them to an appropriate level of effectiveness?
In my world, it is the place where local community newspapers reside.
Community newspapering in these times is not easy.
Beyond the physical work, newspapering is an endless stream of deadlines that morph into each other. As soon as one project is done, another begins. There is virtually no downtime.
As soon as the production of the physical paper is done and off to the press (a huge feat in itself), the bulk of the digital edition is posted online, ad insertion orders are sorted and invoiced, the mailbags are driven to post offices all over the place, all with the hopes that the paper will get to your hands and eyes in a timely fashion. And that you will enjoy reading it. That we have done our jobs in keeping you informed about issues happening in your community.
And that our journalism reflects the very human stories that deepen our relationships with each other.
In many small towns throughout the region, there are poorly run adult care centers where people who need care, live. We see these residents on the streets, in the library, in the grocery store, walking on the highway. They might ask for money. They may be carrying discarded magazines from the Post Office. Our lives intersect with them, but usually, it is superficial. Often, it is judgmental.
On Tuesday, we had the honor to view this story from the personal eye of a father searching for his son.
He reached out to the paper, and we answered his call.
Community journalism matters.
Congratulations to the TRR staff for their amazing journalistic work, performed within a human circle of connection.
I look forward to following this unfolding story. Here's the brief on the closing