Congrats to our colleagues
I make no secret of the fact that I believe in journalism that is aggressive, objective and accurate, in ascending order of importance.
That’s the kind of journalism we strive to practice at Carroll County Newspapers. Sometimes that makes us unpopular in some circles, and that’s OK. Part of our job is to shine a light into dark corners, to make sure that public business is conducted in public and to tell stories that need to be told — regardless of who doesn’t like it. In fact, my favorite stories are those that someone doesn’t want us to tell.
I believe that should be the mission of all newspapers. And when I see another newspaper practice that kind of journalism, it gives me a sense of pride in our profession and our mission.
As I write this, that sense of pride is overflowing for our colleagues in a neighboring county who have demonstrated that even a “community weekly” can do great things for its readers and its community.
The Madison County Record in Huntsville was recently awarded the 2021 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism. The award was presented by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. The Record was honored for what the foundation described as an “unflinching investigation … into attempts by the Huntsville, Arkansas, school board to cover up sexual assault allegations by junior high school basketball players.”
Other finalists for the award included The Washington Post and Miami Herald/ProPublica.
“The reporting by the community weekly with a circulation of just 4,000 and only five staff members found that the local school board members sought to conceal not only the assault allegations but also their decision to reduce the recommended punishment for some students and to throw out punishment for others,” the foundation said.
Ellen Kreth, the Record’s owner and publisher, and general manager Shannon Hahn wrote the series with help from summer reporter Celia Kreth.
“Our goal was to hold the people in power accountable for the way they handled this,” Ellen Kreth told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “This was not a story that we sought out. When it came to us — we can’t go to bed at night and put your head on a pillow and say ‘I didn’t do what I should have done.’ ”
In other words, the Record couldn’t ignore the story, although there’s no doubt that some influential people in Madison County would have preferred that it did. Instead, the Record stayed true to its readers and to its mission. It shined a light into a dark corner and it told the truth.
Congratulations to the Madison County Record for some well-deserved recognition and for a powerful reminder of what good journalism is all about.