National Newspaper Week: Our newsroom is consumed by a spirit of community service

Posted10/9/2018 10:00 AM

Framed examples of the community service work that is the hallmark of our staff's devotion dominate a wall that leads to our newsroom.

At the center of that long display, public service awards surround an elegant poster that proclaims, "Ultimately, our job is to make the world a little better place."

That is not simply a slogan. It is our reason for being. I suspect you'd have to mingle with our staff day after day to appreciate how deeply ingrained that sense of mission is.

It is an inspiration to me to be able to work with so many people who so genuinely care, who so much view service to the community as their life's work.

This sense of service is at the forefront of our journalism.

It is a guideline for the judgments we make, for the attention we give to sensitive stories, for the balance of good news we strive to include with the bad to properly reflect the whole of life in the suburbs.

For years, we have used our journalism to combat the tragedy of drug abuse. We exposed and explored opioid dangers long before it became fashionable to do so. People tell us we've saved lives in the process.

In our "Perilous Pathways" series, our reporting not only may lead to important legislation, but it increased everyone's awareness of the potential dangers at crosswalks and to approach them more carefully.

Our "Last Kiss" series this spring helped bring attention to the loneliness and isolation that grips widows and widowers who for so long had suffered in silence.

Our examination of school test results revealed the relentless depth of the link between income and academic performance -- and looked for solutions.

We prominently highlight local charities with our monthly "Caring in Action" feature.

We call attention to "Suburban Heroes" with a weekly column designed to pay them tribute.

Our Fittest Loser contest has helped suburbanites lose thousands of pounds and reclaim their health and their lives.

We strongly support education, singling out the "Suburbs' Top Teachers" and honoring high-performing youngsters with Academic Teams and Leadership Teams and All-Area sports teams -- using them as role models for others.

We play a watchdog role on suburban tax matters.

We provide forums for civic debate on issues of the day, viewing that as one of our most important obligations.

We come to work each day hoping to contribute constructively to the well-being of the community.

Occasionally, we get to do that in big ways. More often, it's in little ways.

In either case, that's why we're here.

How blessed we are to be able to use our work for the well-being of the community.

How blessed we are to be able to help make the world a little better place.

• A portion of this column is based on an editorial John Lampinen wrote for the Daily Herald on Aug. 18, 2018.

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