As I walked toward the ambulance with an EMS worker, a first responder at the accident scene joked with me: “I’ll bet this gets in the newspaper tomorrow.”
Last Monday, while on my way to work a Labor Day editing shift, a truck pulled out in front of me, trying to cross a rural road I use near my home. My vehicle hit his at nearly full speed.
My car was a wreck, a total loss the insurance company later ruled. I suspect his truck didn’t fare much better.
Despite all that, my accident wasn’t in The Lima News, and it has nothing to do with my role as an editor there that night or any other night.
I was not seriously injured and didn’t require medical treatment, aside from a couple bandages where my legs were cut. The other driver also declined medical treatment. We left in the vehicles of loved ones, not ambulances.
As such, it wouldn’t rise to the level of being reported in our newspaper. Our standard before putting something into print is that someone had to be badly injured and transported from the scene or die in the incident.
That’s why you can see an accident yourself, complete with fire trucks and ambulances, and not see any mention of it in the newspaper. Quite frankly, fender-benders, even ones bad enough that they total vehicles, happen so frequently, it’s not worth our limited reporting resources to chase down the information on all of them unless someone’s hurt.
I share this because survey after survey show people don’t think the media is telling them everything. As I’ve just acknowledged, they’re right. We skip over plenty of things we declared over the years were just routine.
About half the calls I receive complaining about things not making the newspaper involve automobile accidents. People are convinced we skip over them because we don’t care or because someone “important” was involved. Some people even bring race or economic status into it.
The reality is a reporter calls the area police agencies at least twice a day — once in the morning, once in the evening. We listen to the police scanner all day long. A reporter skims through the police call logs for the Lima Police Department and Allen County Sheriff’s Office every weekday.
We also work through some moral dilemmas, such as wondering if reporting suicides and overdose deaths actually cause copycat incidents. We’ve determined for years that unless those types of death happen in a public space, they’re not in the greater public’s interest.
There are plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to covering all those vehicle mash-ups the traditional media won’t. They get good traffic as people point out every time they see two cruisers near one another, and that’s fine for the people interested in that.
What I haven’t encountered is a Facebook group that independently monitors every case going through the court system, compiling the results of those cases. I haven’t found one that sifts through government meeting minutes and agendas for nearly every government in Allen, Auglaize and Putnam counties. I haven’t discovered one that also tries to share positive accomplishments in the area.
I’ll fully acknowledge we’re not a perfect news-gathering operation. We’re working to get better every day, bringing better and more information to you in a way that makes sense.
So, no, that two-car accident involving the newspaper’s managing editor last Monday didn’t get into the newspaper on Tuesday, even though we knew about it. Now you know why.