West's World: Honoring the Fourth Estate
Nearly four years in this business has brought me an undeniable appreciation for media and the valuable role it plays in a community. It is like the point guard on a basketball team over seeing the court, directing their fellow teammates in the correct direction to flawlessly maneuver their way to a basket for success.
In my profession however, instead of overseeing the hardwood glory, we watch over small towns or a parish and assist in guiding the public to triumphs through spotlighting an individual’s success and downfalls. We also highlight need to know information about government and the officials running it. Instead of having the mission to sink a shot in a basketball goal, scoring for us often means we’ve guided the public to the truth and reality that raises questions that will result in answers that can ultimately lead to an individual having the opportunity at a better life.
To work for the media has never been easy, but it has without a doubt always been very rewarding.
From the first meeting I ever covered, which was for the Evangeline Parish Fire District #2, to the incredible people I’ve met through these last few years, this job has proven to be nothing short of a God send.
I’ve covered events from one end of the parish to the other and have grown an absolute appreciation for the diverse and unique people that make up this magnificent place that I have been blessed to call home.
From the predominantly French speaking Catholics in Ville Platte, Mamou and Basile to the mostly protestant English people in the north, this parish is truly remarkable simply for its inquisitive make up that almost mimics the make up of the entire state as a whole.
It’s diversity has taught me that without differences this world would be bland; and, in the words of country singer Miranda Lambert it absolutely takes “all kinds of kinds” to make this place so great.
The political and hard news side of this job has always been the area that has interested me most. I have realized just how important the voice of the public is in terms of the success any community will experience. Knowing that, it has also become abundantly clear that a small town newspaper is the best resource to allow that voice to know when it needs to be heard.
Through the legal section of the newspaper and coverage of news stories, we keep the public in the know.
As I told a friend recently, when a small town newspaper dies then you might as well kiss democracy goodbye. Because, imagine a world where there is no oversight for politicians who decide how public money is being spent. That should create a scary picture in everyone’s mind.
Democracy allows the people’s voice to matter through the process of elections. And, we, as the media, give the public need to know information to assist the voter in determining who they feel will best represent them as their elected official.
As we continue to cover decisions officials make, we then allow the electorate to determine whether they should change their representative when the next cycle of elections roll around.
One of the greatest challenges I have faced since stepping through the doors of our 145 Court Street location has been watching what I have once called the bridge between government and the people slowly inch its way closer to crumbling like a Louisiana bridge condemned by the Department of Transportation and Development.
It has become hard for the hand held community newspaper to compete with smart phones and the Internet. However, you can almost consider me a millennial who has grown up in the age of technology and one who understands it can become a tool for our community papers instead of the enemy.
The great divide between how older and younger generations receive news has been crippling to small town newspapers across the nation. However, the way in which the upcoming generations retrieve their news is ever changing and we, as your small town newspaper, must change with it.
In my nearly four years, what I’ve learned best is that small town media reporting local news is necessary to the success of any community.
I discovered a great passion for something I never realized I would have when I began working here, and that passion is one I don’t believe will ever die. The main reason why is because I’ve learned just how important a newspaper is for us all.
Trust me when I say, you’d be lost without your community newspaper. So if you aren’t a person who wants the hard copy, then never forget you can have all the best local news on your mobile device or computer by subscribing to our E-type version.
So, as I have said before, stay informed. Support democracy, subscribe.