As a kid, I vividly remember summer mornings at the breakfast table, usually alone, occasionally with the siblings or parents popping in and out, a bowl of cereal in front of me, carefully going over every line of the Royals box score on the agate page of The Kansas City Star.
There was no need to retrieve the paper from the steps (or bushes) as dad had already grabbed it and gone through it page by page.
I usually knew exactly what had happened, but reading about it and seeing the line score was always on the agenda.
Then, it was on to the Metro section to see if any news had happened in Independence.
In the afternoon, The Examiner would arrive to read. As a teenager, I would get a stack of them to throw on my route.
The ink got in my hands early and stayed with me throughout this point in my career.
Journalism jobs and assignments have taken me to San Diego, Iowa, St. Joseph, Kansas City and many places in between.
Having covered a handful of presidential elections and political campaigns, I will cherish those memories with an equal amount of pride as I do those that include many years covering high school athletics, selling advertising in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit and building relationships with the communities I served.
To me, community journalism meant being in the community. A part of it. Living it. Volunteering.
Newspapers cannot walk around with their collective hands out and not give back. We’re years and years past the point of people consuming our news “just because.” We have to give them as much within the pages of our newspaper as we do individually as members of the community.
Community newspapers lead a discussion, not wait for it to happen.
Community journalism dictates that a combination of local news, opinions, advertising, information, photography, involvement, inclusion, submitted material and a sharing of ideas is what will drive the concept for years and decades to come.
Community journalism began in Lee’s Summit in 1881. It thrived under Ferrell Shuck for decades, it survived economic downturns and staff turnover.
And community journalism lives on today.
With the benefit of 134 years of experience, the knowledge base inside these walls, the commitment of past staff members and a future with an eye on an ever-changing news-gathering environment, community newspapers and journalism are a vital part of Lee’s Summit.
Many communities around us are not served by a newspaper. For that, the community is weaker.
It is imperative to support community newspapers and the concept of community journalism.
As I leave, I plan to lead that charge, as I have always here, by example.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Leeâs Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.