Through the eyes of your neighbor
In The River Reporter’s early days, former editor Glenn Pontier used to sit with the paper after it was printed and read through it several times. First, he would read it through the eyes of Beth Peck, the then board president of the Tusten Times, a non-profit board that was formed to oversee the paper when it was first established in 1975. Then he’d read through the eight-page edition as Dick Behling, the long-time Republican supervisor. From there, he’d move on to county officials and even the neighbor next door.
It was a practice. It was a realization that not everyone reads the paper from the same perspective. Not everyone sees the news from the same perspective.
In those early days, there was tension between what Narrowsburg news was and was not. News about the arts alliance, a fixture on Main Street since 1976, or about the National Park Service, which arrived in the valley in 1980, was not seen as Narrowsburg news.
Narrowsburg news was about the old-timers, not the new transplants.
In one sense, that attitude, that split continues in every community.
How power is used in a community is the basis of community life. It raises questions on who belongs and who is an outsider.
At its core, it highlights the beauty and simplicity of a community newspaper. It is, ironically enough, the whole point of a community newspaper. The paper is a place where the whole of the community can be presented.
So I invite you to sit down with the paper and to read it with the eye of your neighbor.
How would your neighbor view the Comeback Kids story of Dawn Hyde, niece of Town of Delaware Supervisor Ed Sykes?
Is she a local? Is she a transplant?
How do we determine the boundaries of the stories that we feel are in our sphere?
What about the stories that we believe are about the other?
It's a practice. It's a realization that not everyone reads the news from the same perspective.
At this time of fracture between people and our firmly held ideologies, can we look at our local news and begin to understand what separates us?
Can we, perhaps, find some common ground in understanding that we each have our unique perspective?
What can we learn about our community and our own biases when we read with the eyes of the other?
Try it, and let me know how it goes.