Editorial: Citizen of the Year?

Last Friday marked the first of what we hope will be many open-to-the-public editorial meetings. Most of the “citizen journalists” and interested community members attending said they thought the newspaper was doing a pretty good job but offered some useful suggestions about how it could do even better.

Among the questions posed was:  “What happened to the newspaper’s recognition of a ‘Rappahannock News Citizen of the Year?’ I always look forward to that. This year I missed it.”

It is not as if there isn’t in the county a large pool of qualified candidates. Indeed, toward the end of last year we received plenty of specific nominations and suggestions: Mike Leake, Cliff Miller, Bill Fletcher . . . .  And not to limit nominations to only what happened in 2011 but also to acknowledge all the years of public service to the county, Diane Bruce and Peter Luke were recommended.

How to choose among all these – not to mention many other – candidates? It would have been difficult, to be sure. But any decision about a newspaper’s content is by definition difficult: reporting and editing, after all, are nothing more than a process of picking and choosing what to include and what to leave out. It is a process that can be honed by experience and professional training, but it always remains difficult nonetheless.

Or maybe we here at the newspaper are simply wimpy in our worries about not offending readers? Picking Richard Lykes as Citizen of the Year in 2011 was easy: He was dead, and had left $2 million to benefit Rappahannock. But, generally speaking, anyone who has left a big enough footprint on the county to be called “Citizen of the Year” will have inevitably stepped on at least some toes.

What do you think? Should the newspaper continue with its recognition of Citizen of the Year? And if so, whom do you choose? Let us know!

And please join us at our next open-to-the-public editorial meeting, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m., at Thornton River Grille in Sperryville. (Future meetings will be on the fourth Friday of the month, and we hope to rotate the location around the county each month.)

Walter Nicklin