Local news is our bread and butter

September 26, 2009|By JAKE WOMER

To learn a little something about 1,400 people in this community, all anyone needs to do is read four editions of The Herald-Mail.

This newspaper offers readers the opportunity to know what is happening in Hagerstown, Washington County and the Tri-State area. It offers readers a glimpse into the lives of hundreds of their neighbors every day.

We write the big stories and the small stories. We report news that affects individuals, and we report news that affects everybody.

While we can't tell every story in this community, we do tell a lot. One way to tell how many is to count the number of people whose names and faces are reflected in this newspaper's pages.


So I set out to do that. For each the past four months, I've counted the number of local names in one randomly selected edition of The Herald-Mail. To give me an honest, random representation, peers from other newspapers have chosen the date each month.

Here is what I've come up with so far:

o 531 local names in the June 4 edition

o 308 local names in the July 10 edition

o 266 local names in the Aug. 6 edition

o 341 local names in the Sept. 9 edition

That adds up to 1,446 names.

Some of those names are the same from edition to edition. Because the actions of our elected officials affect so many of us, some of their names appear in stories in each edition. With that in mind, lets round the total down to 1,400.

Many of those 1,400 names belong to elected officials, and many more belong to new graduates; high school and middle school athletes; students of all ages; teachers and school administrators; Girl Scouts; Eagle Scouts; businessmen and businesswomen; chefs; state, county, city and town employees; police; firefighters; sheriff's deputies; doctors; lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants; community leaders and volunteers; event organizers; clergy and religious leaders; doctors; and historical re-enactors

They can't all be winners, but they're all newsmakers for a community newspaper such as The Herald-Mail. Their names might be included for any achievement or milestone. A lot of the those are honorable reasons and people deserve recognition for that. Of course, other actions deserve recognition for the opposite reason. So local criminals' names are counted, too.

All of the names belong to people you might have once passed in a store or on the street. They all are local.

In these pages, readers still see the names Barack Obama, Martin O'Malley, Joe Manchin, Ed Rendell, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi as state, national and world news greatly affects our lives, but Herald-Mail readers also have the chance to read about what is happening right here.

That local news is our bread and butter because it's largely unique to The Herald-Mail. You won't see all of those stories on TV or in other newspapers.

Jake Womer is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at

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