Help me help youPublished 10:15am Friday, August 2, 2013
When I started work at The Natchez Democrat, I had an advantage in that it was my hometown.
I had spent most of my childhood and adult life in the Miss-Lou area, be it Vidalia in Louisiana, Woodville, Miss., which was in a nearby county, or of course, Natchez, Miss., itself. I went to school there, I went to community college there and I had worked jobs in the area.
I knew people, or I at least knew people who knew people.
For instance, if I needed to know about a neighborhood that was once one of the best neighborhoods in Natchez, but had fallen on bad times, I knew I could go to my grandmother, and I knew that she would know everyone and their dog who owned a home in that neighborhood. She even knew people who were still there, people who were very disappointed to see that this neighborhood had fallen and become mostly deteriorating rental properties.
More practically, I would have loved to talk to someone who knew and remembers the recently deceased Sen. Harry Byrd for this newspaper, The Tidewater News. If my grandmother lived here, she could have brought up many, many names to talk about. My grandmother does not live here, however, she lives in Natchez. And so I reached out, but failed to produce anyone.
There are plenty of other examples where knowing people would help with making this community newspaper better.
Every week we put out special pages, Outdoors, Sports, Business, Agribusiness, Life and Celebrations.
Some days, it is automatic what is going on those pages, especially with the good job Mrs. Merle Monahan does with Life. Other days, it is a reach to figure out what to put on those pages, especially Business and Outdoors.
In Natchez, I’d know who hunts. I grew up with a group of friends who are now big into hunting. They hunt dove, wild turkey, deer and they fish, too. I could call around on those days when I’m looking for something interesting, and perhaps find that someone knows someone who caught a big fish, or shot that elusive 30-point buck — everyone knows that buck is out there.
As of now, my calls looking into that sort of information is very limited.
In business, I knew a lot of the people who owned businesses. Some of the people I grew up with had started businesses in town. And more often than not, I possibly went to school with someone related to the business owner, and that helped.
It is not to say that knowing people makes the job any easier, but it certainly makes the stories a lot better. And that’s what is important, telling good stories.
Events come to me. People want to publicize those. Crime comes to me because it is public record. I get scores from schools, and other big items from city and county government, but if that’s all that is going in the paper, we really are not doing our job. Certainly, that stuff is important, and it should be in the newspaper, but I’d also like to be more consistent with the other items.
I’d like to be able to give you that good read that you can’t get anywhere else. We’ve done that since I’ve been here, but at the same time, I’m sure we’ve missed some things that are equally worth stories.
If you are interested in the Outdoors page being better, please contact me. I’d love to make it better. If you’d like to see more sports items, please let me know what is going on. If there are business, life or news stories that I’m missing, please let me know. Do you live in a small community in the region that does not get enough coverage? Please, please call me.
I want to get to know you better, Western Tidewater. I’ve really enjoyed learning what I’ve learned so far, and I look forward to learning all the more. Most importantly, I look forward to telling the story of this area.
CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He thanks you for reading and hopes that one day, you adopt him as one of your own. You can reach him at 562-3187 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.