News is the unusual, not the `good' or `bad'

Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2000

Newspapers are oftentimes accused of only reporting ``negative'' stories. It's a charge that oftentimes befuddles journalists, as our goal is to report what's going on in our communities and the world at large. We don't rank stories as ``good'' or ``bad,'' but whether they would be of interest to readers.

We search for unique stories, stories that affect how we live, stories that will impact our readers. We also look for the unusual - the story that makes people sit up and take notice.

Such was the case in yesterday's newspaper. It was a story with bizarre coincidences, involved kids and highlighted what oftentimes seems to be a vanishing trait - honesty.

The short version is that roughly 15 years ago a then 10-year-old Robert Bain found an envelope containing jewelry and returned it to its owner, Janet Lown. Just recently, Faye Bain, Robert's mother, had her purse stolen. It was found and returned by James Lown, 11, Janet's son.

There are some great elements to this story - the coincidence these two would meet again 15 years over a similar situation; and the fact these two - Robert and James - were honest enough to return something that wasn't theirs to the rightful owners.

So we'd like to salute Robert and James, and especially their mothers for raising kids who value honesty.

At the same time, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out the irony that in today's society, honestly appears to be of news value. Newspapers don't report that every plane took off and landed safety; that no banks were robbed today; that no one was shot or mugged or raped; that no houses or stores were broken into.

Wouldn't it be a high mark of our society if acts of honesty and charity became so commonplace and normal that they lost their news value? We're obviously not there yet, but it would seem to be a goal worth striving toward.

So until that day comes, when honestly, respect for others, tolerance and all those other traits we strive for become commonplace, we'll continue to report on those special instances that stand out and salute those who make a difference.

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