When I became managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers two years ago, one of my biggest priorities was coverage of education.
Samantha Jones, who has since become our associate editor, joined our staff about a month after I did. Although Sam covered a lot of beats during her time as a reporter in Berryville, the most important was education.
As I told Sam in one of our first conversations, people want to read about things that are important to them. And, of course, nothing is more important to most people than their children. To that end, we've worked hard to emphasize education coverage and school news in Berryville, Green Forest and Eureka Springs. Pick up a copy of this newspaper any time of the year, and odds are high that you'll see at least one school-related story on the front page. Often, during the academic year, you'll see two or three.
Of course, we don't get to every school event that we'd like to cover. Sometimes, we don't have the staff or the time. Sometimes, we simply miss things. But we try to cover as many as we can.
Truthfully, we have a vested
interest. The more names we can get into the paper, hopefully the more papers we are able to sell. But selling newspapers is really a byproduct of producing a newspaper that's relevant to a community, and that's our real goal.
Before I came here, I was managing editor of a six-day-a-week morning newspaper in a town of about 50,000 people. That city is waging what I fear is a losing war against poverty and drugs and the crimes that result from that combination. That city has one of the highest homicide rates in the country -- 15 to 20 murders every year. The education system is afflicted by a dwindling tax base and a shortage of qualified teachers.
The newspaper there is a reflection of the community. Yes, there are far more good people there than bad. But with all of those problems going on, sometimes it was difficult to take time to focus on the good things that were happening.
I feel blessed beyond measure to be in a place now where I can work for a newspaper that is able to reflect a vibrant community, where we can emphasize the good things that are happening.
No, Carroll County is not immune to problems like drugs and poverty. But those problems are thankfully small in the grand scheme of things.
Lately, the pages of this newspaper have featured photos from high school graduations and scholarship recipients. Today's paper includes a photo of a young woman from Green Forest who has become a respected teacher. Another photo shows a young man from Berryville being honored for meritorious service in the U.S. Air Force. Those young people embody the positive impact that our local schools can make, and the quality of young people in and from Carroll County.
So to all those graduates in the Class of 2016, all those scholarship recipients, all those Carroll County students making dean's lists at colleges across the country, congratulations. We salute you.
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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.