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Ennis Daily News

On target and on time

Working for a community newspaper I have received all sorts of complaints.
Some criticism has been in the way people feel I report the news, which is sometimes amusing because I get complaints from both sides of a news story that I was biased against them. At times grievances are made against the subject matter in what I have reported and other times I get angry phone calls in what I have failed to report.
I received a call just like that last example about a week ago regarding an Ennis native who became a very successful businessman. The woman who called proceeded to tell me how our publication had missed big time concerning the accomplishments of Ed Whitacre since he branched out from this quaint community.
She told me that Whitacre had graduated from Texas Tech University and held the position of CEO of AT&T until his retirement at the age of 65. She sounded very proud of what Whitacre had done and the recognition he had brought to Ennis as the head of a powerful and well-known company.
She went on to explain the Ennis Daily News was apparently famous for not focusing on local folks who make a name for themselves outside the city limits. I patiently waited my turn to speak and once I had taken my lashing I began my rebuttal. I explained that our publication features stories about Ennis natives in every issue. Only a few days before her phone call we ran two stories on the same front page about Kendra Thomas, an author who grew up in Ennis and had recently published a book, and Alfred Bennett, a 1983 Ennis High School graduate who had recently been elected as district judge in Harris County. We were so impressed by these two people in fact that we ran an editorial the same day titled “Local graduates making it big” highlighting the accomplishments of these two individuals and the many others like them who make Ennis’ generous and giving reputation better known by achieving great things outside of this community.
The caller’s reply to the fact that two feature stories focusing on Ennis natives had just run the same day was that Thomas and Bennett were young people. Bennett is in his early 40s, and Whitacre was an older gentleman. When an Ennis native achieves success, we think it’s worth mentioning, regardless of their age.
After looking at our newspapers since speaking with this woman I have seen stories that cover a local teacher who received the Dallas Ecological Foundation’s 2009 Educator of the Year Award, a local musician playing at Carnegie Hall, an Ennis soldier who will be spending Thanksgiving with his family in their new home in Japan and a local musician who has released his first album.
I politely told the woman on the line we were sorry for missing the opportunity to cover a story that featured a man who grew up in Ennis and had made great strides in the business world. She continued to tell me we missed big, which seemingly was her big sticking point. I made one more sincere apology and told her nobody was perfect. We would try to get all the feature stories we could, but no one gets them all.
The woman hung up the line, and I realized I had never gotten her name. I wish I had, because later my publisher found an article our newspaper published in May of 2007 about Mr. Whitacre, who at that time had announced he would be retiring from AT&T. It turns out that we do so many stories about local folks, I can’t remember them all. I wish I could have told the caller that we didn’t “miss big,” we were just a year-and-a-half ahead of her on this one.
We couldn’t do our jobs without the help of our readers who provide us with leads and great story ideas. We appreciate those tips and if it turns out we do miss a story, we can only promise to try to do better. In the meantime, keep those story ideas coming.

Matt Cook is the managing editor at the Ennis Daily News and can be reached at editor@ennisdailynews.com

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Posted by on Nov 28 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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