Wick Communications

Recalling the big days

In journalism on May 17, 2013 at 8:34 am
Part of Bethany Strunk's layout.

Part of Bethany Strunk’s layout.

I wanted to commend the folks at the Sierra Vista Herald for a terrific job commemorating Victory in Europe Day. Above, you see the newspaper’s front page from May 8, the 68th anniversary of one of the 20th century’s most important dates.

I must admit, VE Day completely escaped my attention this year. I suspect it was a little harder to ignore in a place like Sierra Vista, where the Army’s Fort Huachuca dominates the landscape.

It may be obvious, but perhaps there is some nuance to commemorating dates.

I don’t much like coverage of American Spleen Week or German Shepherd Month. It seems every day has some kind of marketing tag appended to it. But VE Day, and other dates of legitimate historic significance, is different. They often bring back emotional memories in readers, as the Herald’s Bill Hess points out.

Hess found local people for whom that date in history was not merely a matter for the history books. He found a Holocaust survivor and a former soldier who was at Normandy. In other words, he brought history to life.

I’m sure Bill would be the first to acknowledge that it was a team effort. Managing Editor Eric Petermann credits Bethany Strunk with that impressive page design. Mark Levy is responsible for the arresting photography. The team obviously put some planning into the production and, in so doing, delivered readers something unique and valuable.

This is really good community journalism you can duplicate. Were there Civil War battles in your area? Are there surviving heroes from the civil rights movement living down the street? Were local farmworkers involved in organizing labor unions years ago? Seek out important dates in your town’s local history and bring them to life with stories like the ones Bill and Bethany and Mark delivered.

Clay

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