We’ve had terrific stories about high school athletics on the front page. We do have the No. 1 high school football team in the country—Don Bosco—in our area. But the great front-page sports stories also include the coach of the Paterson tennis team, who has a miserable record, like 23 wins and 230 losses. He goes through garbage cans looking for tennis balls. He’s teaching kids how to play tennis. A whole bunch of them are in college now or out of college, and they have a reunion for him, as the greatest coach ever. I’m getting teary-eyed as I’m telling you.

We have a really wonderful team of reporters. One of them is a woman named Lindy Washburn, who’s one of the best healthcare reporters in the country. She notices how many times around the area people take up collections for people who need healthcare. She uses that as a news hook. In her hands, it raises a larger, resonant issue—Why do people have to resort to that to get their health needs met? That’s a perfect marriage of local culture and a profound national issue. To the extent we do that, we’re doing our job. What more could you ask for as an editor?

Correction: The “Reluctant Savior” who rescued a homeless man worked in a tropical fish and aquarium store, not for an aquarium; and the European Union budget is 50 billion euros, not dollars. CJR regrets the errors.

 

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Mike Hoyt was CJR's executive editor from 2001 to 2013, teaches at Columbia's Journalism School and is the editor of The Big Roundtable, a startup that is a home for narrative writing.