How stories get in the paper

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By Ken Begley


I always get my haircut down at The Springfield Barber Shop on Main Street by Marsha. Marsha is always a good talker and most guys come in for the conversation as much as for the hair cut.

Anyway, we had an interesting talk the other day. It centered on how some stories get printed in the paper and others don’t.
Well, the truth is, a story generally makes it in the paper, if and only if, you tell us about it.
I generally get my best columns when someone I know, and frequently don’t, just starts talking with me. The other day a good friend named Phillip Campbell mentioned in passing that he and his family were going to Peru to visit an ancient Indian archeological site.
Wow, I thought. That would be a neat story. I passed it on to our editor Jesse Osbourne and Brandon Mattingly made a great story on it. I generally do small storiesand Jesse and Brandon Mattingly do the really good ones, especially when photos are needed.
Another time I was jogging on the bypass one Saturday morning when I ran into Steve Hale. St. Catharine College was putting on a very extensive Veterans Day program. He wanted me to give them some publicity with a story. I was looking for an idea anyway so I asked him to e-mail me some information about what they were doing, as I was totally unfamiliar with the program. Steve sent it to me and I wrote an article on Sunday.  It was in the paper that next issue.
Another time Nell Haydon called me about writing a story on a local artist and his family. They were putting on an exhibit of their work at the Opera House and wanted to get the word out. So I spent a really entertaining afternoon talking with the Wheeler family and looking at their paintings. The story came out a week later.
Sometimes you might just happen to sit by me at a ball game or to eat somewhere and we might just talk about nothing in particular. If you seem like a person that loves to laugh or I just like you then you’ll probably see your name in my next article. That’s particularly so if I’m trying to write something funny.
A lot of times I like to be challenged.
I’ll be somewhere, doing something ordinary and run into somebody that recognizes me and says, “Don’t write about me.” That just eggs me on. I was at a checkout line in Parkview IGA when a lady in front of me made that comment and by next week I had a funny article about just checking out groceries at Parkview IGA with her in it.
My favorite people are at the opposite ends of the spectrum of life. They are the very, very young and the very, very old.
Why is that?
Because everything is new to the youngster and looking at the world through their eyes is like looking at it for the first time. There is real excitement about what is coming next. It might be going to school for the first time, playing on a ball team, Christmas coming or their birthday. Every day is something exciting to look forward to.
Talking to old people is very comforting to me. They just can’t seem to take life or anybody too seriously anymore, for the most part. They seem to enjoy the moment. They don’t care much about gifts or possessions. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, good looking or ugly, famous or not. They just seem to enjoy time spent with people. In short, they do know what is truly important in life.
My favorite serious stories are on brave, young kids.
You know what I mean.
You see some young kid suffering through a life- threatening illness or permanent disability with grace and courage far beyond what their age would leave you to expect. Yeah, those are the ones that I write for myself more than anyone else. The kids at times make me ashamed for my own weaknesses, inspire me to struggle through my own petty problems, and more than anything else give me confidence in the future of our country when we go through tough times.
Because they have lived through tough times their entire short lives and they just don’t know how to quit.
Well, I think that about covers it.
So, remember, this is your newspaper!
Don’t be afraid to call or write us and say “Hey, here’s a great story for you . . .”
We’ll be glad you did.
Your only problem if you tell me is you might not be able to get away.
As my wife, Cindy, or my dad will tell you, I love to talk.
See you in the paper!
(Writer’s note: The added incentive to contact the Sun with a potential story is a dinner at Mordecai’s given to the person that turns in the best leads to the paper.)
(Editor’s note: News tips that are used are put into a drawing for a gift card to Mordecai’s. Self-promotional news tips are not considered, nor are leads that promote a group or activity the person is involved with.)