Equal coverage?

We live in a world where “equal” seems to be the perpetual goal: equal work for equal pay; gender equality; race equality.

Here at Feather Publishing we strive to provide the best news product that we can, but will coverage always be equal? Should it be?

In the past week, this newspaper has heard complaints about the coverage provided to Plumas Charter School versus that afforded to the schools governed by the Plumas Unified School District. Plumas Charter School wants more. Conversely, there are those who think that Plumas Charter has received more coverage than Plumas Unified. People are even counting stories.

How does one decide which story should be counted? For example, we recently ran an article about the renovations underway at the old school house building in Quincy, which formerly held the school district’s administrative offices. We would consider that a community story — this is a historic building in the center of town that has been discussed for some time. Should it be preserved; should it be torn down? If saved, what should it be in its next lifetime? A youth hostel? A mercantile? Office space?

We would not equate a story on that structure with a story on a fourth-grade bake sale for example, which brings up another interesting dilemma: What makes a school-related story newsworthy? If we covered every art project, drama production, talent show, science fair, field trip, class party, etc., there would be no space left for other news.

Covering high school graduation is a given, but what else should be mandatory? When do we stop being a newspaper and start becoming a newsletter? That said, we enjoy covering students and school activities — those stories make our newspapers a reflection of our communities. People want to see what our youth are doing. Recently we devoted a couple of pages to prom and a dance recital. Parents and community members were pleased. Did those photo spreads prevent other news from being printed? Yes. Each week we have to look at the news that we have — both generated by our own reporters and that which is submitted from our readers — to determine what should run.

Those decisions impact which school events we cover, as well as everything else that happens in our communities and county on a weekly basis. But back to the subject of a charter school versus Plumas Unified. There probably will be more stories published on the latter and that’s true for a couple of reasons: First, Plumas Unified has been around for decades and our communities are full of alum from Chester, Greenville, Portola and Quincy high schools and elementary schools, and they still identify with their alma maters. Secondly, in terms of the numbers, there are more students served by school district schools, thus more people are impacted.

That said, we will recognize the good things that happen at all of our educational facilities — from preschools to Feather River College — and print what we can. It won’t always be equal, but we will strive to be fair.

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