Gone are the days when people gathered in the town square.
As technology advances, we are more connected than ever--but also more disconnected. Sometimes, we can feel as if we know more about what’s happening in New York or Washington, D.C. than on Main Street and we can be Facebook friends with someone from the other side of the country and not even know our next-door neighbor.
We may joke about ourselves tongue-in-cheek, but we do it together. The individuals who make up Greene County are complex and different, but in many ways we are the same, and we care about a lot of the same things. Many people take the “You’ll Like Linton” sign as a cocky challenge and later come to admit that they do, in fact, like Linton. Those of us who take Highway 54 to work daily regard the large plastic giraffe as a beacon of hope at the end of a long work day. We Oodle Inn (and Waddle Out), and the only acceptable size for a breaded tenderloin sandwich is “bigger than my head” and preferably from Route 67 Diner. Otherwise, they are best paired with a fine lemon shake-up. Then, we play a game of corn hole (bean-bag toss for you fancy people) and still have room for an artisinal cheese ball from Baesler’s after all is said and done.
People from Greene County are funny, we’re tough, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we rally together when one of our own is in need.
In the face of the Blazier family’s tragic loss, I witnessed our Town Square mentality in action as people swiftly organized fundraising events for the family and gave generously without a second thought. Those who lacked money, gave in prayer and condolences. This is what makes our community special.
We cover town hall and board meetings because we act as placeholders for the citizens who cannot attend them because we work longer hours, live farther away, and pay much more for childcare than we did in Ye Olde Times. But Town Squares have not vanished. The advancement of technology among other things has made a physical Town Square obsolete and impractical, but we have before us the opportunity to move the Town Square onto your internet browser or mobile phone.
Many of our readers may have noticed a “submit” button on the top of the Greene County Daily World’s website. When clicked, it will give you the option to submit a story, an engagement or a classified ad. We would love for readers to take full advantage of this function.
Greene County measures 546 square miles, and the Daily World employs a total of four staff writers and a handful of stringers or freelance journalists. The total population is nearly 33,000, and each one of these people has a story.
Do not believe for a single moment that nothing happens in our community. Babies are born, lives are lost, couples are engaged, and that is news. People who were told they would never walk again, are walking. That is news. People conquer demons, and their stories help other people. Sometimes, long-time fighters and inspirations pass away suddenly after helping many others, and their stories must live on. That is news. That is a lot of news for four people.
In journalism classes, we were taught “news values” to determine what should or should not be covered. Items had to have a combination of impact, proximity, prominence, timeliness, oddity and human interest. But these are difficult to measure and vary greatly from journalist to journalist--so rest assured, when you submit a story to us, there will not be a person wearing a monocle reviewing your story and sneering “This is not news!”
We accept user-submitted stories because ultimately, our readers decide what is newsworthy. We leave our email addresses at the end of all our stories because we care what you think, and if you think something newsworthy is happening, send us a tip. Most of our reporters have Twitter and Facebook accounts, and welcome you to add them. We welcome suggestions and ideas on how to better include the community in the news-gathering process, and technology and practices we could use to better serve our community with the information we gather.
If you’re old-fashioned and want to attach a type-written letter to the leg of a homing pigeon and fly it to our office, that’s cool too.
In my opinion, one of the most important functions of telling stories is not only to inform people, but to bring people closer together and form a sense of community. As a community, we have proven that we care and we’re willing to help. But first, you have to shout it on the Town Square.
Kristen Inman is a staff writer at the Greene County Daily World and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter and Instagram @kristengcdw.