Opinion

Can’t you ever write about positive things?

While sensational stories may be important to the sales of newspapers, I cannot keep from commenting on the trend in Justine Frederiksen’s articles about the teens in our community.

To read her detailed reports about kids misbehaving, readers could reach the conclusion that ours is not a safe community and that our schools are overflowing with bad kids.

As one who works directly with people looking to relocate to Port Orchard and Kitsap County, I am routinely asked about the quality of life here as well as the quality of schools in our community. Were I to rely on the stories Ms. Frederiksen researches from police reports, my picture of our area would be very jaded.

In (the Jan. 24) Independent, Ms. Frederiksen’s article about teens being arrested for smoking pot garnered a nine inch-by-three-and-a-half-inch space with bold headlines and larger print. That story was about three students.

Nestled next to the article on kids misbehaving was the School Briefs section, with two little articles in very small font size. A magma cum laude graduate garnered two and a half inches by two inches of press.

A whopping two-inch-by-four-inch article mentioned that the Cedar Heights Junior High’s drill team won a league title for the third straight year. That competition involved several hundred young teens from our county and more than one hundred teens from the South Kitsap area.

Did our reporter take notice of this great group of kids going good things? No, she was too busy writing about the three who were caught with marijuana.

I’m not saying the misbehaving students aren’t newsworthy. However, Ms. Frederiksen could have talked about how the adults associated with our schools work hard to stop misbehavior when it happens. The latter side of the story might not be a sensational, but it would be a more accurate reflection of the situation.

Before the winter holidays, Ms. Frederiksen ran a major headline about three kids who were involved in a marijuana and bottle of beer problem at school. Huge headlines and police report researched information told the story of three local teens being bad. It also told the story of parents being bad.

Where in the paper were articles bout the children from Sidney Glen Elementary whose parents helped them collect hundreds of pounds of food to share with the less fortunate families in the community? How many inches of press were given to the tremendous musical concerts at each of our schools?

Where in the paper are articles highlighting the great work our kids are doing helping the Kiwanis Club of Port Orchard each week with the kindergarten reading program?

For that matter, where are the great articles Ms. Frederiksen used to write highlighting the wonderful career classes available at the high school? Guess good news must not be good enough for headline news.

I’m not suggesting that everything in the Independent needs to be good news. I am suggesting, however, that were it not for the sports section, people who read this paper and aren’t involved with our schools would never know that Port Orchard and the South Kitsap area is a great place to work, live and learn.

Perhaps your reporter needs to spend a little less time digging through police reports and a lot more time actually learning about what is really happening with 98 percent of our kids who attend schools in South Kitsap.

That news might not be so colorful but it would surely be more representative of what is regularly happening in our community.

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Shawn Fletcher is a Port Orchard resident.

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