We offer the good, the bad and the interesting

July 09, 2011

Today, I'm going to go with the flow.

Not because I was ordered to do so, but because I recognize a good trend when I see one.

Two Sundays ago, Night City Editor Stuart Samuels wrote in this space about the large number of police and crime stories that fill our pages and website (insert shameless plug here — and their popularity among our readers.

Last Sunday, Executive Editor Jake Womer opined about the sometimes unnoticed number of positive (and equally important) stories that we publish every week.

Both lists were impressive. When I looked back over Jake's column, I was kind of blown away at the number of stories and photos (and pages!) that we run that focus on positive news.

Today, I will follow up by writing about interesting stuff.

First, a little history: I've been in the business for kind of a long time now. Even before I started working, I was reading newspapers, books, magazines, cereal boxes, textbooks, whatever I could get my hands on.

For my personal reading choices, I blow off things that don't interest me. I don't like outdoor stuff, motorcycles, wine, the NBA. I like reading about sports, home improvement, landscaping, health and fitness, food and music.

When we choose stories to cover here, I take an open-minded approach. I say to myself: Would I read this? Would my neighbor read this? Would my wife read this? My mother? A 60-year-old? A 20-year-old?

Who gives a darn about this story?

And the final factor: Is it interesting, and if not, how can we make it more interesting?

A quick story: Ran into an old friend who was cleaning his massive wooden trolley in his driveway. We stopped, took a tour inside and asked all the usual stuff, like where he got it, how old it was, how much it cost and why on Earth would he get it.

He said he was going to employ it in his disc-jockey business. I asked if any other media had done stories on it and he said, no, because they told him it was being used for his business and he would need to buy an ad.

I don't know about you, but I think a shiny brown trolley on wheels cruising around town is pretty cool. I wanted to know about it. His neighbors probably wanted to know about it, my fellow editors wanted to know about it.

Herald-Mail reporter Jennifer Fitch interviewed the man and his wife and we ran a story and photo on the Tri-State page. It was well-written and informative. But most of all, it was interesting.

Not that I'm saying we don't occasionally make poor decisions. We're not perfect and we certainly could do better on several fronts. And occasionally, we run stories that could stand to be a little more interesting.

However, as newspaper companies continue to evolve and use more devices to tell stories in print and online, they will need to make solid news judgments. And part of that decision-making process must include whether that story is interesting and if it give readers a reason to care.

A big thanks and salute to all of the organizers of Fourth of July celebrations around the Tri-State area. I was able to enjoy the Summer Jubilee in Waynesboro, Pa., on Monday and it makes me proud to live in the community.

I also read a host of stories about celebrations in Hagerstown, Sharpsburg, Clear Spring, Shepherdstown and Greencastle.

These events require dedication and planning. On behalf of all who enjoyed the fun, a thousand thanks. Can't wait 'til next year.

I hope fellow soccer lovers are enjoying the 2011 Women's World Cup. It showcases great play without all of the drama, flopping, elbows and whining that mar the men's game.

I actually prefer watching the women's game on most occasions. The strong showing by the U.S. women so far has been inspirational and interesting for soccer fans and nonfans, too.

That should keep people watching until the end.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7281 or by email at

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