Community news coverage is more vital now than ever

Susan Condon Love

It’s been two weeks since I attended the Ohio Newspaper Media Association awards ceremony in Columbus and I am still smiling. Journalism is embedded in my DNA. It’s been a family “business,” so to speak, since the 1940s, when my father got his first journalism job. In fact, my parents MET at The Ohio State University School of Journalism (before it was re-labeled “communications”). I started as managing editor of these three community newspapers — West Life, The Press and The North Ridgeville Press — some three years ago, after decades at The Plain Dealer, the Savannah News-Press, the Annapolis Capital and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, to name a few of my “alma maters.”

This year, we won. A lot of awards. Three in particular had me grinning from ear-to-ear: the top “News” category for West Life and The Press, and Newspaper of the Year for our category for West Life.

Wow.

Here’s the thing. I totally understand the struggle of newspapers. In fact, I understand it more than I really want to, because it not only hits home in my daily budget, but in my heart. Ridiculously, I still adore my profession. I love going out in the community and meeting people. I love talking to students, teachers, artists, musicians and good Samaritans. I love the act of writing and editing. I stupidly love every second of it. But I see my profession both being maligned on a daily basis by the highest person in our government — a man who has a history of calling newspaper and media outlets and pretending to be someone else in order to toot his own horn. And I see people abandoning print, but making fun of it as they do it. Um. We know print is just one option now for news and entertainment. We also have our website (which you have to pay to read the stories), and we use Twitter and Facebook to get news out to our nearly dozen communities.

I’m often asked why we ask people to pay for a subscription to read our stories online. We are professionals. We do not give our work out for free. I think it’s dumb for any news-gathering operation to do that. The biggest and best in my profession — The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal — also charge for someone to read their stories (after three to five “freebie” reads).

What is my point, you ask. Old news, Susan, you say. Here is my point: If you are reading this, you know our quality. We have the news you literally won’t find in a timely fashion on any other non-biased outlet. The larger community weeklies run stories weeks and weeks after the events, unless it’s a murder or fire. We give it to you in a timely fashion (and we also cover those murders and fires).

Spread the news, please. Tell people that they DO have a community newspaper. Let us know if you have a good story idea or tip! My number and email are at the bottom of this column.

Meanwhile, let me brag a little bit again: Here is a list of our recent wins at the ONMA Osman C. Hooper Awards ceremony.

West Life was named Newspaper of the Year in Ohio for its division by the Ohio News Media Association, an honor the paper last won more than a decade ago.

West Life swept first, second and third place in the sports feature category. A judge’s comment on sports reporter Jack Kopanski’s feature on runner Steve Babson was: “I get a full sense of Babson through examples and a rich collection of reactions and quotes.”

To achieve Newspaper of the Year status, West Life received the following awards:

First Place, News Coverage (top award considering a year’s worth of papers)

First Place, Newspaper Design, Maureen Bole, Amanda Petkiewicz

First Place, Best Page Design, Maureen Bole

First Place, Community Awareness, Susan Love, Kevin Kelley, Maureen Bole

First Place, Sports Coverage, Jack Kopanski, Chris Voloschuk, Joe Ostrica

First Place, Best Sports Feature, Jack Kopanski

First Place, Advertising, Tracy Miller, Joanne Poras

Second Place, Best Sports Feature, Jack Kopanski

Second Place, Best Page Design, Maureen Bole

Third Place, Original Columns, Maureen Bole

Third Place, Best Page Design, Maureen Bole

Third Place, Best Sports Feature, Chris Voloschuk

The Press received the following awards:

First Place, News Coverage (top award considering a year’s worth of papers)

Second Place, Advertising, Tracy Miller, Joanne Poras

Third Place, Special Edition or Section, Staff

The North Ridgeville Press received the following awards:

First Place, Best Feature Photo, Steve Crupi

Third Place, Advertising, Tracy Miller, Joanne Poras

Thank you for reading.

Contact Susan Love at editor@westlifenews.com or call 440-871-5797. To subscribe, call 440-871-5797 or go to www.pjpnewspapers.com.

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