I had plenty of time to sit back, relax and think - time I rarely have - and I came to realize that I have several conflicting issues I wanted to address upon arriving home.
The first being stress. It wasn't the type of stress that was forced upon me by any means. It was stress I put on myself. When I took over as Editor of the Post-Signal there were several things that I wanted to refine and change about our content, things that our General Manager would emphasize on a daily basis before I took over but, to his frustration I'm sure, often weren't done.
To begin with, I wanted our paper to run stories that, oh shall we say, are relevant to people of our area. My first obligation being to Crowley and Acadia Parish, then to the entire Acadiana area, and then to state news that affects those of us who make up the Acadiana area.
And sometimes it's hard. Crowley, Acadia Parish, and even Louisiana make up a very small part of the world and there aren't always groundbreaking' stories (we can't fill the paper with oil spill stories everyday, anyway you see enough of that on television) that we can put on our front page and it often aggravates me when there isn't much going on in Acadia Parish to fill the front page with.
It is also the beginning of summer which I've learned over the past few years is a prettty down time for news in Acadia. Obviously school is out. Several organizations that hold regularly scheduled meetings break for the summer. And so we often find ourselves scrambling for decent stories to put on the front page.
As bad as this is going to sound, there have actually been many days when a press release from the Crowley Police Department or the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office about some crime has been like a gift to us, helping us out on a news-starved day. No I don't like the fact that there are drug dealers and other criminals operating in Crowley. But it does take up much-needed space in our paper. Thankfully, we recently have had candidates for the October 2nd election making their announcements for the past few weeks and we had Julyfete yesterday which is a big event in Crowley.
However, then I started to realize something else. As bipolar as this may sound, I love being the Editor of the Post-Signal, which is a media outlet, but I find myself with a growing contempt for the mainstream media.
Take the past year for example. We've had the earthquake in Haiti which was a tragic event of epic proportions. Have things miraculously recovered over there? Of course not. However, the mainstream media rarely covers it anymore. Yeah, it was the top story for about a month but these guys are all about ratings and sales. And as sad as it is to say, people probably became bored with hearing about it on a daily basis so they simply moved onto another story - Jordan Vandersloot for example - just to keep their ratings up. Like a professor told me in college - if it bleeds, it leads.
Now we have this oil spill in the Gulf. Another story that will affect the Gulf Coast and all of America for many years to come. So now CNN's Anderson Cooper (Yeah, we get it Anderson. You work out but I'd personally appreciate it if you stopped wearing t-shirts two sizes too small) has set up camp down on the coast where he'll be until people grow tired of hearing about this story. Then he'll eventually leave the coast behind when something new happens and, while he'll still mention it occassionally, it won't be covered as often. Just like Katrina. Just like Rita.
It will soon be old news even though the coastline still won't be close to being recovered and thousands of people will have lost their livelihoods. There will probably be a Gulf breifing for about five minutes of his show but that will be about it.
After watching these reporters operate recently - actually they seem more like entertainers these days - it made me happy to be working in a city like Crowley. A mostly quiet town where the crime I see is nothing compared to what I saw when I lived in Dallas, and where The Rice Festival, City Council meetings, and Julyfete are front page news. And I don't have a boss whose going to send me on a day's notice to some place where something horrible has just happened to simply to exploit the plight of any victims.
Now Crowley isn't exactly Mayberry either. We do have our share of crime and other problems that other, bigger cities have. It's just on a much smaller scale. Hell, when I lived in Dallas I would buy the paper and the front page would be filled with murders and other violent crimes. Maybe writing about a Rotary Club meeting is a good thing after all. It's funny because after a day at the Post Signal you sometimes feel as though you didn't find enough good stories. However, then you watch what other news outlets consider to be a good story and I find myself thankful to live here.
And I promise you guys will be spared the disturbing sight of me in a t-shirt two sizes too small.
Howell Dennis is a native of Lafayette, La. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington where he graduated in journalism and public relations.