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A Christmas message

December 24, 2004

The Herald-Mail will not publish tomorrow, to give all our employees a chance to spend Christmas with their families and to allow readers, for one day this year, to reflect on something other than the news.

What many people think of as "news" is meetings of elected officials, accounts of police and fire calls and reporting on criminal trials.

But there is another kind of news that The Herald-Mail is privileged to share with the community.

They are the notices of births, children's triumphs on the playing field and in the classroom, and their weddings. We mark these milestones gladly and take note of those loved ones who have taken their final breath, in this world anyway.

We could not publish a daily newspaper if readers weren't willing to share these details of their lives with us. And, not only do local citizens pass along the details of their personal lives, some also share tips about what goes on when there is no reporter there to observe.

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This information is more useful than most people realize. Without help from people on the scene when something newsworthy occurs, The Herald-Mail would not be able to do nearly as good a job as we do now.

We also appreciate the support of our many advertisers, who trust us to carry the messages that support their businesses. The same goes for the customers who depend on Herald-Mail ads for everything from finding a bargain on a holiday turkey to locating a new home.

In recent years, The Herald-Mail has expanded its services to better serve the community. To preserve the history of Washington County, we solicited local residents' photos and published them in the book "Our Past, Our People." A second volume is in the works.

In all that we do, we strive to remember that newspapers do their best work when they do two things. The first is to listen to the concerns of citizens in their communities and tailor their coverage accordingly. Good newspapers also strive to illuminate important issues of which local residents may not be aware.

Is there something that you'd like us to do that we don't do now, or something that you feel we could do better?

Our pledge for 2005 and beyond is that if you'll keep sharing your ideas, we'll keep trying to make them a part of what we do. Merry Christmas.

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