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Larry Lough

Doing journalism not always popular

All of our readers love this newspaper.

Except the ones who don’t.

We get a lot of positive comments from readers about the job we do.

And we hear lots of negative responses, too.

Newspaper people are used to it.

Some online readers post comments (frequently!) that they don’t like this or that – and that’s the reason they don’t subscribe to the print edition.

All we can say is, Thanks for reading.

HOW DO WE GAUGE how well we are doing the job that a newspaper is supposed to do?

We would first have to define the role of a newspaper – but we would hear disagreement about that, too.

As a mass medium, a newspaper has a wide variety of readers, each with a different set of expectations for what reporters and editors should do.

We listen to all comments – good and bad – and factor them into our continual self-assessment. We can always get better.

Some encouragement comes from peers who judge our work in statewide journalism contests, in which we have a pretty good record.

But we don’t publish a newspaper – in print or online – to win awards.

We do it to serve our readers and our communities.

That’s our mission.

WE BELIEVE THAT a big part of our job is covering public affairs – government, politics, education, crime and other matters of civic interest.

In fact, that’s our obligation – the price we pay under the First Amendment to earn the broad legal protections it affords us to publish without fear of government retribution.

Monitoring the performance of government bodies and public officials is the most important thing we do.

But some of those public officials – as well as their friends and family – don’t like the way we do it.

So, we are always willing to provide space – on our pages as well as the website – for people to question and criticize the newspaper.

After all, our performance is fair game for public discussion, too.

IN THIS EDITOR’S more than 40 years in journalism, he has seen few reporters who attacked the reporting of public affairs as effectively as David Giuliani did during his 3 years at this newspaper.

Davey left recently for another job in the Shaw Media family. We were sorry to see him leave.

So were many readers.

“You have been a very good reporter here in the Sauk Valley – you have done what reporters should do – report the news whether it is good or not-so-good,” one couple wrote in an email to Davey. (They sent a copy to the editor.)

“‘You have investigated and reported problems that have occurred in our political system and taken the heat when some didn’t want you to identify their shortcomings.”

Another reader also bade Davey a fond farewell.

“ I am so sorry to lose you in our area simply because you did a great job for us taxpayers,” she wrote. “It takes a lot of [chutzpah] to wade into a group of good ole boys and ask the tough questions.”

No everyone agreed.

“David Giuliani had no idea how to do his job, nor was there any apparent editorial ability to improve his work within the ranks of your organization,” another reader wrote in an email to the editor.

“He contributes nothing of value, as I’m sure his future employers, all of whom will presumably have professional expertise superior to yours, will find.”

Everybody’s an editor.

DAVEY RECEIVED several awards for his good work in his 3 years at Sauk Valley Media.

He won or shared honors for government beat reporting, breaking news, in-depth news, news series, business writing, and enterprise reporting.

And four of his awards came for Best Promotion of the Public’s Right to Know, a category in the yearly contest sponsored by the Illinois Press Association.

In fact, his work in 2013 earned two awards in that category – one of them in a team project with reporter Matt Mencarini.

The placings of those awards will be announced at the annual IPA awards luncheon June 13.

Congratulations, Davey and Matt.

DURING THE PAST 7 years, this newspaper has won 11 awards for Best Promotion of the Public’s Right to Know.

We all take special pride in those awards, because we think a newspaper’s primary role is ensuring the public’s right to know about the actions of governing bodies and public officials.

Even if governing bodies and elected officials don’t always appreciate it, the public generally does.

Covering public affairs has been and will continue to be the main focus of this newspaper’s news reporting.

We always enjoy hearing readers’ thoughts about that – good and bad.

Whichever camp you’re in, thanks for reading.