Wick Communications

A newspaper veteran’s lament

In Writing on November 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

I was heartened to see that many – about half – of our newspapers featured veterans on their pages and websites on Veteran’s Day. Ours was not one of them and I blame no one but myself.

Most of the coverage was notice of commemorations or a feature on a school event or something similar and fairly pedestrian. It got me wondering what we might have done that would have been a show-stopper.

Video. What if we had edited together several 20- or 30-second videos of veterans. (“My name is Joe Smith, and I served in the Third Infantry Division in Vietnam…”)

Polls. What branch of the military did you serve in? How do you remember our service men and women?

Documents. What if you found important Veteran’s Day speeches through the years, Congressional declarations, pdfs of front pages when wars have ended, etc. and attached them to your story?

Here’s the point: I am not a big fan of rote stories about annual holidays. They aren’t much fun to write and tend to be very similar to what we’ve done every year before. Understand that I’m not suggesting I live up to the standard I seek to set. I’m as guilty as anyone reading these words.

Together, then, let’s see this holiday season as an opportunity. I think the key is to create a richer experience for readers online. Invite readers to post photos of family Thanksgiving gatherings from days gone by, include an audio post of a midnight Mass, write a story about a boy who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Surprise readers. Surprise me. Surprise yourself.

Clay

 

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