Farrey: Help us bring the news to you


You know that old saying about the word assume.

Don’t worry; I’m not about to make a donkey out of anyone – or myself.

The wonderful thing about community newspapers is that you tell us and we tell you.

It’s a circular relationship: we both exchange information and distribute it. At least that’s how we’d like it to work.

We do our best with a small staff to bring you the news you need and want to know. But we’re human just like you, and if we aren’t informed, we can’t inform you.

When it comes to governmental news, the city and county clerks are wonderful about sending out meeting agendas so we can attend and let you know what’s going on with your taxpayer dollars.

It helps us decide how to divide and conquer – although right now there really is no “divide,” as we’re down a full-time reporting position.

(Insert shameless plug for applicants to fill the void left by Nicole Vik, who recently took a job with the city of Tomah. Congrats, Nicole, on your new venture!)

It’s the human interest stories that we need to be alerted on.

If you want to read about it, we need to know about it. Don’t assume we already know.

We found out about the case of Samara Steinmetz, featured on Thursday’s front page, only by chance because our general manager contacted her uncle, Kale Winchel, to get his permission to use his photos of the fire that destroyed Trail’s End in Ontario.

It was kind of a “by the way, my niece is fighting for her life in the hospital. Can you write a story?” thing.

Samara’s horrific accident happened on Thanksgiving Day, when the Herald staff was off for the holiday.

Winchel was wondering why we hadn’t written an article. The short, and only, answer is we didn’t know. We weren’t alerted by the authorities.

We’d have written a story much sooner had we been alerted.

I took a call from a reader Thursday morning who witnessed the accident from her home and wanted to know how things turned out. I was thankfully able to tell her that the story was laid out on the front page as we spoke.

But if not for that Trail’s End fire and Facebook, we may have never known.

I happened upon the Grinch event on today’s front page through a random Facebook comment in a La Crosse-based group. Someone was looking for a costumed Grinch to make a short appearance.

Sharee Schock happened to comment, saying the Grinch would be at Evolve Nutrition at 4 p.m. Friday.

I checked out Evolve’s Facebook page because I thought it would be fun to get some Grinchiness on our front page and discovered it was an event to help support the family of 5-year-old Ellison Leis, who is fighting leukemia.

I was able to connect this weekend with Rachel Leis, Ellison’s mom, and I hope to bring you their story soon.

Discovering both circumstances involved some detective work, some following the trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak.

And a phone call or an email would have alerted us about both much sooner.

I love my Facebook, but I don’t think my boss wants to pay me to mix pleasure with business to mill around for stories.

And I personally don’t feel comfortable sourcing legitimate news from there.

So my ask of you, readers, is to let us know about important things. We may already know, but we may not. It doesn’t hurt to check.

If you post it to Facebook, please also let us know.

So while we’re talking about assuming, assume we don’t know. Alert us. We’ll tell you if we’re on it, and if we’re not, we’ll ask you to tell us about it.

We’re here to write your stories. We just need to know which ones you want to hear.

Contact Herald Editor Kariann Farrey at editor@monroecounty herald.com or 608-269-3186.


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