Confessions of a newsroom junkie

I admit, I have a problem. I’m too nosey. I eavesdrop on every conversation within a 15-foot radius. You’ll share details with me you didn’t want to discuss. 
I’m a kid in a candy shop when news is breaking. I know more about people I’ve never met than they’d like me to know.
I can hold a conversation with the most random people on the most random topics, from local school board drama to sidewalk expansions in Del Mar.
My name is Eric, and I am a newsroom junkie.
There is something so intoxicating about the power to influence public policy. Often, if it is printed in a trustworthy paper, then it must be so. While I occasionally have issues with the public’s blind faith in mass media affairs, I know most news outlets are just as hooked as I am. We just want to tell the story.
So with that in mind, I’d like you to know we take our jobs seriously here at The Coast News Group. Our editorial staff consists of three employees — two full-time, one part-time — and several freelance reporters who cover a city beat. We really are that small. Sometimes we can’t possibly score all the juicy details on a story because of our staff limitations.  
We are in no way out to represent one cause or another. What we do, basically, is report the news. We don’t have a companywide agenda we’re looking to promote, nor is it our mission to somehow pressure or manipulate our readers. It would be a major disservice if this were the case. Furthermore, I wouldn’t work for The Coast News Group.
We might not be the most important source of news available. That’s why the Associated Press and the New York Times exist. But we excel at spotlighting news in the community — Little League games, city council happenings, developer plans, crime, etc. Because of this, we make an effort to be sensitive, thoughtful, accommodating and caring. Think of us as a good boyfriend.    
It seems our readers sometimes doubt our editorial judgment. A while back, our coverage of a gay wedding sparked serious controversy (“Cool coast wedding”). 
More recently, our story on loan modifications (“Couple brings loan modification fees into question”) has drawn fierce criticism from supporters of Mary Moi. The scary word “lawsuit” keeps appearing within the comments section of our Web site.
 When we first came across the online — mostly anonymous — pro-Moi lashings, we took the time to carefully reread the loan modification story for any instances of libel or misconception. We determined that we should have included Moi’s observations, but feel that our reporter, Bianca Kaplanek, nailed the story. 
We are behind Bianca 100 percent, and I can tell you from an editor’s perspective how comforting it is to know your reporter is focused on the facts.    
The most important feature of the newspaper, especially the paper centered on local communities, is its ability to create an ongoing dialogue. We are here first to inform. From there, it is up the community to decide and discuss.  
Listen, we don’t always get it right. With so many names and facts and versions of one story, it’s possible we occasionally miss a minor detail.
But I’ll have you know we do make serious efforts to produce a quality paper week after week, something special for my fellow newspaper junkies of North County to peruse, and hopefully enjoy. 
If you feel your side of the story is misunderstood or misrepresented, I urge you to contact our editorial department. 
People constantly ask for my take on the feasibility of newspaper survival.  Newspapers have survived a recession or two, and they aren’t going anywhere soon. If The Coast News Group can weather this increasingly discouraging financial mess the country is in, we’ll still be publishing your news from our headquarters in Leucadia. I hope you’re rooting for us.

Eric Murtaugh likes his job. E-mail him at emurtaugh@coastnewsgroup.com.

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