Occasionally, there is a commenter who says something that just resonates with me. A few months ago it was a commenter on Facebook, Tommy Barnes.
His note appeared under the first announcement that Forest Park Review was on a fact-checking mission. Under the Review's request for readers to submit fliers for fact checking with an image of a fish bowl filled with smearing fliers from elections past, commenter, Tommy Barnes replied, "Ummm...So, like, do your job?"
Yup. Just another day in the life of the Review.
This past election the Review co-hosted six sets of candidate forums (for four public boards), reported on nine public forums, hosted six private endorsement interview sessions, managed questionnaires and statements from 25 candidates, stationed reporters and photographers at several locations on election night, and staffed our offices with journalists, technical support, design support and editors to get election summaries out for readers after the polls closed.
During the election months we had reporters at every Village Council meeting, School Board meeting, reported on community news, business changes, community highs and lows and special interest stories. Just doing our job, and reporting on the Village of Forest Park week by week.
We are among thousands of local media outlets in our nation just doing our jobs. In Illinois, there are just under 500 local news agencies that are a part of the Illinois Press Association, which is less than half as many as there were in the 1880s. The political history of Illinois can be traced to newspapers throughout the state, which included Abraham Lincoln's German language newspaper, Illinois Staatsanzeiger, (google translated to Illinois State Scoreboard) and Forest Park Mayor, Henry Kaul's German Newspaper Schleswig-Holstein (likely named from the northernmost state in Germany).
Today, Illinois newspapers still maintain names that reflect original political positions, method of delivery or mission of the founders, with names like Quincy Herald-Whig or Chicago Defender or Bureau County Republican or Mason County Democrat or The Gazette-Democrat or The Leader Union or The Henderson County Quill or The Register Mail.
So when the Illinois Press Association selected the Forest Park Review and our sister newspapers with generous lists of honors and accolades, including honors for our work in "fact checking fliers," we were appreciative and honored to be recognized, but in the end, we were just doing our job.
Fact-checking was dependent on citizens submitting materials. Community leaders, experts, candidates and others just were answering questions on your behalf. Those that took the time to answer were just doing their jobs too.
So kudos to everyone who just does what is expected of them.
As our political landscape shifts in Forest Park, the Forest Park Review will be here, just as it has for over 100 years, reporting on the week's news, attending meetings, sharing stories, asking questions, documenting exchanges, writing when there is no answer, and following our public interests, because we are just doing our job.
Screenshot of Facebook comment added to article announcing Review's fact-checking initiative to clear up any reader confusion.