Letter to the Editor

Letter to the editor

Friday, November 25, 2005

News coverage; news

suggestions; scholarship night procedures

Dear editor and citizens

of Nevada:

I've had some things on my mind for quite a while and finally have found the time to sit down and put them into a letter.

First off, I want to comment on the poor coverage of the cross-country team and the fact that they had two members go to state. Not to mention that one was a sophomore and the other was a two-time state runner. I think the lack of journalism that was demonstrated by the paper was at best ridiculous.

I don't have personal ties to the cross-country team nor was I ever a cross-country member. I played volleyball and ran track in both high-school and college. I did, however, get the chance to train with the cross-country team on a few occasions in high school, and let me tell you; cross-country members deserve coverage just like the rest of the sports in Nevada. These kids work just as hard.

As someone on the outside of the situation, looking in, I can't even imagine how they felt getting a paragraph in the paper after they got home.

My sister, and the women's basketball team, went to the state championship in 1997. You would have thought they had won the National Championship with the amount of media coverage they received; however,they earned it. The other sports, as so many people, and sadly other Nevada coaches call them deserve just as much coverage as the football team, or the basketball team or the baseball team -- all of which have squeaked out at best, average seasons over the past few years. The picture and story spreads they get are unreal and unecessary when you have other sports out there ... winning. I realize with media bias toward sports like golf, or track, wrestling. swimming, or cross country many great stories will always be hidden. I majored in mass communication in college and minored in journalism. I worked as chief sports writer for the college newspaper and the lead sports anchor for the college television station. I think our freshman staff writers could have written a better story than the cross-country team got in the paper. And to think my staff didn't even get paid doing it. If one of them brought me a story that looked like that one did I would have laughed in their face and told them nice joke. As journalists at the Nevada Daily Mail you should be ashamed that this story even ran in the way that it did.

Sadly, it isn't just sports, it seems like every department is getting lazier and lazier in their stories. And every time, you get away with it, and many of us in the community are left with our jaw open wondering how these stories could pass the editors desk. I am sure many of you learned this in your schooling or whatever training you had to work in a journalism setting; you must research, you must take time to get the full story and not just write the story that you see. That is conflict of interest on your part if you don't.

In sports especially, you can't just focus on one athlete or one team all of the time, no matter who runs the team or whose parent is in the school system. If you go about it that way you don't earn respect from the community you just get negative feedback that sadly never makes it to your desk or email box.

No matter what kind of pressure you are under to write a story for someone or make sure that a colleague's daughter or son gets the picture story -- you cannot give in. The athlete, team, or activity that works hard and deserves the coverage should get it.

I know the high school has a JROTC drill team that goes to competition and quite frankly, does stellar. When I was in high school the JROTC drill team went to the national competition and I believe they won. You know what was on the cover of the newspaper the next day: not the drill team and that is a sad fact!

* So now that I have said my 5 cents on the issue of sports coverage, let's talk about generalities. It seems like everyday when I get home from work I open the newspaper to be disappointed once again. I know you have been promoting this new format that you are so excited about, but let me ask you this: is the content still the same old stuff, different day? Well if so, no format alteration will change they way people see the paper. Color will only add a little bit.

Substance is what people are looking for. Not updates of a pot luck dinner in Sheldon and everyone who attended. What is with those write-ups with the pictures that are 50 years old? I really would like a response to this question. Most of the time the ladies that write them talk about what they watched on television the night before or what their dog has done lately that is soley interesting to the writers themselves. This is space in the paper that could have been used much more wisely for stories that people actually gave a darn about. So with all this negative feedback, I have some solutions to liven up the paper and add a bit of spice.

How about instead of sending sales reps around to fill the paper with ads -- hire a couple of new people to report on things that everyone is wondering about. For example: write-ups of new restaurants in town, or even older restaurants that have added a new twist.

Do a Nevada Business spotlight every other day-salons, new stores, new attorneys, new bars, new doctor clinics. People want to know about these things, people are curious about these things and will keep buying your paper because of them. I think instead of the usual negative feedback about the paper you will start getting much, much more positive feedback-people will want to buy ads and patronize your paper. New businesses are popping up everyday and we don't hear the whole story: how they came about? why they chose Nevada! Who is running it? Many of these would be great reads.

How about a story of the building that Maverick's went into to -- I bet there is a lot of history in that building that no one knows about, history that is more than two sentences long. Or the old library building's fate. The only thing we get is a picture with a chamber ribbon cutting. Oh and by the way you only get this picture if you are a chamber member. Opening up a small business is hard enough, money is in short in most cases. Storeowners don't have all this extra money to be part of these business clubs.

* The other issue that I would like to briefly comment on is the matter of the way the high school runs its scholarship program and the actual ceremony where the scholarships are presented.

I am writing in regards to this because I hope other parents, students, or teachers will give feedback in open forum as well. In my opinion the whole program needs a complete overhaul and it needs to be done soon. Too many kids are becoming college dropouts and the scholarship money is being wasted. I think the committee needs to do more interviews of students and their needs. Just because parents make lots of money doesn't mean they giving their kids a free ticket to college. My parents did not pay for my college, I did. I learned responsibility and what it means to work hard to get something you need and want.I played varsity sports in college and had a job as well. Kids treasure and cherish the things that they have to work for. I think the money needs to be distributed more evenly. And if a student drops out or decides not to go -- the money needs to be followed up on, returned or whatever -- but find a way to get it to a student in that class. There should be no rollover money unless otherwise alloted at an earlier time.

The actual scholarship ceremony is a ridiculous three hours long. Instead of calling each student up 12 times, keep the student up on stage and present all their scholarships to them at once. I am willing to bet you will have less angry parents and the cermony will go much smoother, and maybe people will look forward to going to it.

I would challenge the community to give feedback to the issues in this letter, positive or negative; something, anything that can help liven up the paper and make people excited about opening it up for once.

Jennifer Hope


Editor's note: This letter exceeds, by far, the normal length limit for letters to the editor in length, but we made an exception because we feel input from the community on how we're doing and other community issues is important.