Lessons from your local newspaper - April Avison

Two Cartersville teenagers reportedly sealed their own fate when they attempted to seek glory in their local newspaper.

D.C. Harris and T.J. Colburn told a reporter how they "struggled to pull a shotgun away from a man who allegedly said he was headed back to the family karaoke club on Ga. Highway 61 to ?clean house.'" The boys were hailed heroes by the club's owner, and the story was featured with a photo on the front page of the Daily Tribune News.

But a man recognized the boys in the photo and called a local police investigator to say he'd seen those two boys in a car that was stolen in March. The tip led the investigator to new evidence and warrants were issued. As of this writing, one of the boys has been arrested on felony charges. The other had not been located.

The lessons learned here are that maybe it wasn't so smart for these boys to have their photo taken for the front page of the local newspaper. The other lesson: perhaps the newspaper can actually do a bit of good every now and then.

Daily Herald reporter Clay Wilson recently wrote a story about a local girls group, Chosen Heirs, that was supporting an orphanage. Karen Nichols, the leader of Chosen Heirs, wrote Clay after the article was published to tell him that as a result of the article, Henry County residents came forth to donate enough money to cover the cost of shipping items to the orphanage. The orphanage facilitator also wrote to say she'd laminated the article to inspire the girls who live there.

"Stuff like this makes it all worthwhile," Clay wrote at the top of Nichols' e-mail that he forwarded to me.

I agree. It's more rare than we'd like to think, but the local newspaper can actually play a pretty valuable role in society. It can help catch criminals or showing the face of a missing child. It can let people know of volunteer opportunities or how to join a civic organization.

A debate occasionally arises about whether community newspapers will eventually be cast aside in favor of online news services and the many other ways in which Americans can get their news today. But I believe local newspapers like this one serve their purpose and are able to do something for their community that no other news outlet can do, whether it be helping orphans or showcasing the stupidity of two teenage boys who thought they could get away with a crime and be heroes, too. You just never know where the front page of your local paper is going to lead you.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.