For community news, newspapers ruleBy: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
The Telegraph has been Folsom’s weekly newspaper since 1856 and part of having more than 100 years of success is due to our focus on local community stories. We strive to fill our pages with local content that is interesting to our readers and different than the daily dose of the latest crazy comment the president said, the doom of the North Korea threat and all of that “stuff” you can find in just about any newsfeed out there, real or fake or a little of both.
What you find in the Folsom Telegraph are stories about news right here in our community, people in our community or people connected to our community. They are unique; they are personal; and they are, most importantly, local.
Last week we published a story about a Folsom teen who purchased a vintage camera at a local Goodwill store not knowing there was a roll of film in it from the 1960s.
Two weeks ago, I was on vacation and I received an email from Josh Bohart telling me his story and how he needed the help of the Telegraph to try to locate this family in the photos that were produced from the old roll of film in the camera he bought to add to his collection.
I know I said I was on vacation at the time, but honestly, I am never really on vacation, nor is my hard working co-worker Rachel Zirin. It’s quite common that on our days off, the two of us are communicating by email or text about a story idea, what our local political figures said this week, to discussing the latest bizarre comment posted on our Facebook page by those specialists, that I like to call freedom of speech specialists, in the community.
Anyway, you get the picture. We don’t really “unplug” from our jobs as we are passionate about this paper and the community it serves, and that shows in our growth over the last year in the community.
So the two of us chatted via text and I decided I would take this story about the camera since I have a vested interest in cameras and photography and it intrigued me.
As it turns out, the story intrigued far more than just me. After we broke the story in last week’s Telegraph, Josh notified me that a local television station had called him and were going to pick up the story. Then the phone at the Telegraph starts ringing with stations calling, KCRA being the first one to contact us and wanting to get a hold of Josh.
This is the type of story the media, like ourselves, truly enjoy working together on to accomplish the mission. In this case, helping this fine young man spread these images to every possible audience he can in hopes his goal gets accomplished. So when KCRA called our office, Rachel came to me and asked if we can give out Josh’s contact information. Since we had already broke the story and, ironically this television station was NOT where the “news came first,” well, I was fine with it as were Josh’s parents.
In the end, every local television station ended up picking up our story about Josh, his treasured camera and the search for a family nobody knows. Other stations out of the region are still calling about it. The story was read by record numbers on our digital edition and it’s still be shared and followed a week later. This is great stuff, not just for the fact that the TV news media had to rely on the weekly community newspaper for their story leads, but for the simple fact that we immediately knew this was a story of local human kindness and we got on it right away.
When I met Josh, talked to him about his find and got to know him better as well as his parents, I have to admit, I saw a lot of myself in this young man. It brought back a lot of memories of the day I pulled that old Kodak Brownie Bullet camera out of my mom’s box she was collecting for Goodwill and launched my interest in photography.
This story also brought back my faith in human kindness and goodwill. This young man didn’t have to start this search; he could have just tossed that old roll of film, put the camera on his shelf and gone on to play a video game or Snapchat. But he didn’t.
As I write this, the leads are still coming in to Josh through Facebook and, more and more, his search continues. I look forward to the outcome when it eventually comes.
In closing, just remember when you read a local story like this in the Telegraph, that we are not simply filling a page, we are filling our role in the community to bring you great stories about those within it.
Bill Sullivan is the General Manager of the Folsom Telegraph and the Folsom Lake Entertainer Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.