A community needs information to make judgments about what is happening and what should happen. The strongest means for a community's conversation is its media. I want to stroll though my media day and talk about what is being done and should be done.
I walk the dog and get my child up for school. About 6:23 I pick up The Paducah Sun and settle in with an espresso to see what the day has to offer.
A local newspaper is probably the most important vehicle for community conversation. Only the newspaper has the staffing to find and report news in any depth. While I grumble about the thinness of the Sun's Monday edition, I do know that the entire text of a WPSD 30-minute newscast is about what is on the front page of the newspaper.
I think some changes are due if the Sun is to be reflective of the community.
n The more recent editorials have found a niche that is closer to the community. Editorials don't have to be as broad as global warming nor be just about Paducah life, but societal themes that affect us that deserve discussion, e.g., a recent editorial on obesity.
n Consider that not all of the community is enticed by columnists espousing only a strong conservative view. Any number of thoughtful writers could provide an additional perspective and broaden The Sun's readership.
n Redo the business page. Anybody who has money for stocks is getting that information from the web. Until the pictures with the tiny print that nobody can read were added, the page looked just like the section in the Pittsburgh Press that I read in 1958.
n It's time to increase investigative journalism. There are many stories that never get filled in, e.g., how did the sad travesty of Mid-Continent become known only so late? What ever happened to the embezzlement settlement over the Expo Center? What happened to the Tent City?
Time for the morning drive and I turn on The Greg Dunker Show on WKYX to see how the traffic is going and catch any other local news, interviews and weather. Two things, though, really set the show aside for me:
The first was when it moved to local commentary. How could one not enjoy listening to "Hizzhoner" discuss "eco--nom-ic development" or the "Governor Beshear" interviews?" The strength of the morning show is bringing timely news about roads, weather, and local discussions, relevant interviews, and the addition as only radio can do of insights through creative skits. (Dunker should also bring Donna back.)
The second moment was the most perfect use of radio that happened during the Ice Storm of 2009. People huddled around the radio as if it were a fireplace. Timely information poured through WKYX as the community pulled together to find normalcy.
The WestKentuckyStar.com is also produced in conjunction with WKYX. I read it now and then, focusing mostly on its "Latest News" bulletins.
See 6 p.m.
Paducah has several publications that end up on my coffee table. There are three that I inevitably read. The Purchase Area Family Magazine is a monthly and probably the first magazine anyone moving to Paducah grabs. I was amazed the first time I picked one up. Whether reading one of the ad-based articles or the list of things to do, it captures services, activities and events of interest to families - some 670 entries over 23 pages in the last issue!
I always read Paducah Life and Posh as well. Paducah Life is a high-gloss magazine that presents a more personality-based picture of Paducah. (Disclaimer: My house was one featured in their last Holiday Issue.) Posh Magazine is a bi-monthly production of The Paducah Sun that "showcases regional homes" and automatically arrives with my paper. There is some overlap with the two magazines, but they are distinct enough to warrant reading if you want a feel for Paducah and the surrounding areas as they celebrate our older homes and share some of the pleasant lifestyles of the area.
Television is a visual medium. It is also one that wants you to feel. It has an entirely different karma than print. When I turn on WPSD, my first feeling is, "Where in the world are they getting those clothes?"
OK, "they" refers to the Women of Six. I admit it. With the exception of Trent's attempt to change his hairstyle this summer, the Men of Six run a pretty straightforward suit-and-tie life.
The visual terror of television usually befalls to women to endure, and with the exception of three broadcasters who always seem to get it with their clothes, I want to suggest a field trip to the local consignment stores. I have learned, in the tow of my wife, that there are more consignment shops here per square inch than any other place I have been. Some of the clothes are designer quality, often unworn, and priced right.
The news itself is as professional as any of the stations around. There is a certain rhythm to the 30 minutes that provides an almost ritualistic peace: news, weather, news, weather, sports, weather.
So as WPSD captures the late-breaking developments of the day and adds the faces and voices of the people it covers, it bookends The Paducah Sun and completes the day.
I never make it this far.
Bill Coscarelli is a professor emeritus from Southern Illinois University in education. He consults for corporations and other clients in training and evaluation.