Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Facebook | Twitter | Home RSS

Telling it like it is

February 23, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

I believe you told us exactly what you thought of this newspaper, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

We will present the survey results in Monday's edition of the Estherville News. Meanwhile here are some thoughts:

Authenticity is the main road to growth, and the recent statewide newspaper awards, in which we won nothing, gave us a push in the direction of having a growth and building year.

"I would enjoy seeing the paper feature positive stories that boost morale and encourage positive growth" ~ a reader

"Many newspapers have historically been cheerleaders for the community. With many changes in rural America, the newspaper can be an outlet to spur ideas and make the community a better place. I would like to see more emphasis on local business people and ideas that will better the community." ~a reader

We had the adoption series, the series on women landowners (only two so far, but we'd certainly accept more), interviews with people who have overcome challenges, coverage of happy and uplifting events, and shout outs on ways the community is growing. It would be fantastic to do more, and we usually follow up on anything that's called in or emailed to us. Specific suggestions would help us grow in this area.

"More on local government, business, better coverage inside the courthouse" ~ a reader

This was not the only comment about wanting more hard news. It was nearly a wash between those who wanted more features or feel-good stories and less hard news and crime and courts, and those who wanted fewer feel good stories and more investigation and hard news.

We have gone into the courthouse attempting to cover local hearings and trials. The issue is that much of the time these are settled out of court or in the magistrate's office instead of open court, so there isn't a way to cover them live. For one civil trial, we went to the courthouse at the appointed time, and the hearing was held by telephone. This doesn't really thrill the part of me that seeks to hold the government accountable to the citizens, but it's not unlawful, and if that's a problem, the accountability falls more to the legislature for possibly giving too much freedom to the courts to keep things out of open court.

Reporting courts and crime is not an attempt to sensationalize an incident or the participants, but to provide an ongoing chronicle of public safety and threats to it in our community.

The number of 18 and 19 year olds who wreck their futures with a first offense of drug possession shatters me every time I add to the growing list for court news. I wish there was a more clear diversionary direction they could take to leave such an indiscretion behind. Our local law enforcement officers must enforce the laws that are on the books, and I appreciate their tough job. It's heartening that the legislature is considering a move to bring first time possession from a serious to a simple misdemeanor. Jail time, being unemployable, being barred from educational opportunities and housing: that's not a way to rehabilitate a young person. So many of the other crimes: theft, domestic abuse, child endangerment, operating while intoxicated, seem to stem from the addiction and mental health issues in our county. I have previously reported on the fact that Emmet County is far and above the highest county in the region as far as an ACEs score, that measure of adversity in childhood. At 17.1 percent it is the second highest in the entire state. And it's not explained by rural isolation, poverty, the presence of multiple races and cultures and recent immigrants, or necessarily a higher rate of alcohol and drug use. I hope to dig into that issue in a solutions journalism method.

Because that level of poor well-being affects us all. I did hear those of you who said more good and uplifting news will make Estherville a place where companies will relocate and economic growth will happen. I cannot think of a single uplifting story we knew about and ignored or missed. We can't be everywhere and hear everything, so we rely on our readers to let us know.

We must, however, balance the happy stuff with the reality that our people are affected by the problems and issues here, and covering it up doesn't actually help anyone.

So, we will continue to deliver the truth.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web