Covering the little things just as importantPublished 7:24pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
As a journalist, a large part of me craves those spot news, nail-biting events where I can just picture a large, one-word bold headline for next day’s paper. I get such an adrenaline rush from covering something that I know hundreds of people will be reading about the next day.
And while it’s hard news like this that drives the newspaper industry, I also believe there’s a large category of stories that deserve credit too.
Tuesday night I was assigned to cover Little Friend’s annual art show. Surrounded by toddlers, parents and teachers, I had to find “the story.”
At first glance, this assignment may seem mundane and completely un-newsworthy. After all, haven’t toddlers been finger-painting since the beginning of time?
As I fought my way through the narrow hallways of the school, congested with small children and their parents, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the scene. I knew there had to be some drug bust or house fire going on that was much more newsworthy than a children’s art show.
It wasn’t until I snapped a photo of a large group of people that I realized why I was there. After taking the picture, I asked for everyone’s names. What I found out was this large group of parents and grandparents were all there for one reason — to see a little girl’s artwork. They were all grinning ear-to-ear talking about how happy they were to be there and to see what their daughter, and granddaughter have been up to. This art show, I began to realize, was more than painted footprints and paper animals. It was a family gathering.
After attending the art show, I went across the street to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where I saw the same families enjoying pancakes in celebration of Mardi Gras.
This, I thought, is what Selma is. It’s a place where children’s art shows and pancake suppers are front-page news, not because there’s nothing newsworthy going on, but because this is what’s important to Selma — family and community.
For the first time in my column, I won’t encourage Selma to do anything different. I encourage Selma to stay the same. And I encourage other towns to take note of our rich sense of community.
It’s events like these — art shows and pancake dinners — that show what the people of Selma find important.
Unfortunately there will always be some sort of crime or huge headline story that reads “guilty” or “busted,” but there won’t always be families gathering together to see a three-year-old’s masterpiece.