In family life and vocation, location counts

July 16, 2006|by BILL KOHLER

Location, location, location.

That well-known phrase most common in the real estate world has taken on dual meaning for me recently.

This weekend, my wife and I will be emptying our first house together and moving most of our wordly belongings into storage and my parents' house.

We decided to move because of the aforementioned phrase - location.

The home we loved. It was built in the late 1940s, had plenty of space (except in the bathroom) and had dozens of neat little features not found in homes today.

It was high on charm, but low on location. It was right on Main Street, the busiest street in town, at one of the busiest intersections in Waynesboro, Pa.


After much debate, hand-wringing, open houses and even a few tears, we decided to opt for another location.

We're building a home in what we expect to be a charming new subdivision in Washington Township, Pa., about a mile from our current home.

The new location, while quite a bit more costly, will provide our daughter with streets on which to ride her bike, other homes with children and a whole lot of silence. (Not to mention a chance for my wife to flex her creative muscles.)

Silence truly is golden. I'm excited about being able to have a conversation with a family member or neighbor in my front yard without having to shout over the roar of tractor-trailers, Harleys and those annoying rice-burners with big mufflers the kids are driving now.

Location, location, location.

Location of stories and the daily challenge of it keeps page editors plenty busy at newspapers across the country.

The Morning Herald has a fairly consistent layout - the A section for local news, opinion and national; B section for Tri-State, obituaries and business; C for Lifestyle; and D for sports.

We get the stories and photos and fill the pages.

Fairly simple concept, right?

If there's one thing I enjoy as well as agonize over in this business, it's that no day is typical. You do the same basic thing each day, but no day ever is the same. The news always is changing, and so are the battles with location and space.

Common phrases between an editor and a reporter are: How long do you want it? How much room do I have? Or my favorite - Keep it tight, I'm trying to fit 10 pounds of stories into a five-pound bag.

Reporters want their stories to have good play in the paper. They want photos with their stories, big and catchy headlines with pull-out quotes and not to have them buried on B7.

Page editors like me who work with reporters and lay out pages want the stories to get good play, want the headlines to sing and want them all to be above the fold or on A1.

Therein lies the rub.

Not all stories can be on Main Street for all to see, and not all of them can be set off with a picture and pull quote in their cozy little subdivision.

Not all stories can be 18-wheelers and Hummers, not all of them can be tiny little sports cars.

So every night and day, page editors at The Herald-Mail are like big puzzle makers. We take all of the pieces and find the right location. Sometimes, we have so much room, we can run more stories, bigger and more photos and lots of extras to dress up the page.

Other nights, it's a battle. News is breaking all over the Tri-State area, obituaries are spilling over onto local pages and the paper is smaller than it's been in weeks.

In a calm, soothing voice, I remind the reporters to keep their stories short, while I use all the tricks to squeeze, nip and tuck. Every inch is crucial. Every line can make a difference.

At the end of the night - as it is in many jobs - we sometimes wonder how it all works, how it all fits and how it all gets done on time.

What it comes back to is location. Good planning, good communication and putting it in the right spot with all the right features, amenities and a bigger bathroom.

Location, location, location.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 1-800-626-6397, ext. 2023, or by e-mail at

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