MORRIS – This past Saturday, Family Fest was the first opportunity I have had to spend an extended period of time in Morris and, more important, meet the people. As the incoming news editor of the Morris Herald-News, I thought it was a great opportunity to meet the people of the community.
From civil services to non-profits and community outreach services, there were plenty of people there. Everyone was welcoming and offered any help should I need it in the future.
I’ve moved a lot the past few years. It comes with the job. Until we get our nightly cable news shows in slick New York City studios, journalists move around from paper to paper and from town to town to do their job and learn how to do it better.
Not that moving jobs is uncommon in the modern economy, where more and more people work as freelancers and hustle from gig to gig.
But a lot of the time people stay put.
Thanks to the internet, a graphic designer or a marketing analyst can work out of their home for any client around the world. With Skype and FaceTime they can put on a shirt and tie and stay in their pajama bottoms while working with a company in Singapore from their bedroom in Bozeman.
Local journalism doesn’t work that way, though, and probably never will. You can't Skype to a house fire, or Facebook Live a major crash and expect to write an informative and engaging story people will want to read.
A reporter can't parachute in for a few hours then go home to a different town, and expect to give the community the information they need. You can’t conference call in to a school board meeting and then talk to the residents that spoke afterward. It's different when you're interviewing your neighbors, or if the event will also impact you too.
So I’m on the move again and expect to be a Morris resident soon. (Anyone with leads on homes for sale, feel free to drop me a line.) We hope to fill the niche that only a newspaper can fill. You want to know what goes on in Morris, and not just the who and what and where, but also the why. An informed community is a better community, and one that makes better decisions for itself.
I’m coming from the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, another Shaw paper, where I worked covering Sycamore and the DeKalb County government. Before that, I worked at the NewsTribune in La Salle-Peru, and got to know Morris because it was the place my now-fiancee and I would meet because it was halfway while we lived apart.
We did dinner and a movie at several restaurants and diners throughout town and during the holidays remarked and how well-done the decorations in Chapin Park are in the winter. We thought then Morris would be a good town to call home when it was just a "what if", and now we’re happy it’s going to be a reality.
Much like before, you’ll see Morris Herald-News reporters and correspondents at events around town, but we’re going to be getting to more of them.
From the people i’ve spoken with, and from my time passing through for chicken fingers at R Place, the residents of Morris are very proud of their community. With a downtown that's both vibrant and historic, and community events galore, there is no shortage of stories to tell.
When you see me around, tell me what you want to hear and what stories we should tell. There are always the old newspaper standbys, but every community is different and we want to produce a newspaper you want to read and that the community is proud of.