GUEST POST by Kevin Hamilton – Why we are here, what we do

This week, I felt it was important to run a guest post by my co-worker at the Iowa Park Leader, a weekly newspaper. I have a passion for free press as much as I have a passion for laughter.  However,  I feel as deeply about this topic as Kevin, but I leave to brilliantly echo my thoughts about it.

If you need a little comic relief, though, I wrote a little thing about being who you are.

by Kevin Hamilton, managing editor of the Iowa Park Leader

I, like many in Iowa Park, were extremely proud of the Hawk baseball team’s run through the Class 4A state playoffs.

These guys … a mixture of seniors, juniors and sophomores, fought through half a dozen elimination games and made it all the way to the region finals, where they finally lost to a stout and talented Godley Wildcat team, only one step from the big games in Austin.

As the Hawks moved through the playoffs, some best-of-three series (including against Bushland and Godley) started on a Wednesday, which presented a problem with our paper, since we go to press on Wednesdays with a Thursday publication date.

We had never … up at that point … really utilized our presence on Facebook, but this became a vehicle where we could inform our readers in a timely fashion, and keep them up to date on how each series was progressing.

So we posted game schedules, results, and a picture here and there.

The response was fantastic, for the most part. We had more likes and shares than at any other time in making Facebook posts.

But we also had one or two posts that were meant to spank us for missing out on other things happening that are important in the community.

“I’m so over the media bias. Don’t think that it only happens in the mainstream media. Nope! Happens right here in small-town USA where sports rule all,” wrote a person in one post. Another added a comment to that post “You have to remember that boys sports are going to be mainstream. If you excel in UIL for anything musical or knowledge (ie. Number sense or narrative reading) you may get a tiny blurb. It really shows when the girls volleyball or even girls in general are on the last or second to last page where the football get a whole 2 pages (toward the middle) but it’s still major attention.”

The first person posting was referring to the fact nine IPHS students made it to the state contest in Solo/Ensemble competition in band and choir.

And the person making the post was not happy that we weren’t making as big a deal on their endeavors as we were making for the Hawk baseball team.

With all that, I want to make a few observations.

1) The Leader has never up to this point promoted anything on Facebook, because that is something new to us … and with the Hawks and the timing of their playoff schedule, we felt it was a good time to “experiment” with postings that would not only inform the public, but point them eventually to our business, which is a community newspaper.

2) We (the Leader) has always promoted the academic/musical/choral/robotics progress at Iowa Park High School. Even this year, we ran stories and pictures of students advancing through the regional/area rounds all the way to state. We’ve reported academic excellence through regular honor rolls and competitions (SkillsUSA, FFA CDE and LDE competitions) and the annual awards assemblies, which included not only honors, but scholarships each individual senior obtained. No one on the planet Earth has reported more on the tradition of the Hawk Band. Trust me.

3) When I came back to Iowa Park and the Leader more than a dozen years ago, there was traditionally a two-page spread each week for Hawk Football … and I added a two-page spread each week for Lady Hawk volleyball to give girls athletics equal exposure.

And trust me on this … if advertisers were game, we would have continued those spreads throughout the school year for all the other sports, for boys and girls.

The Iowa Park Leader has reported and continues to report this community best we can. Of course we will fall short of that in the eyes of some, but that is the nature of the beast.

Moving forward we will look for ways to utilize social media where we can A) better inform our readers of timely and important events, and B) hope you continue to support our efforts by subscribing to the paper, or buying the issues at the news stands.

That is the only way this paper will be able to survive. We hope you continue to make it possible.

On a final note, if you see we are missing out on covering something newsworthy in the community, you can reach me at 592-4431, or email me at khamilton@iowaparkleader.com.

It is why I am here.

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