Focus on social services has reporter asking for help

9:47 PM, Feb. 9, 2013  |  Comments
Person holding pen, close-up of hand and object, (B&W)
Person holding pen, close-up of hand and object, (B&W)
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I've talked to a number of classrooms and participated in a variety of career days through the years.

For journalists, one variation of the same question always emerges.

"How do you get your story ideas?" or "How do you know what to cover?"

It's a question that I've put some deep thought into in recent weeks as I embark on a new adventure at Post-Crescent Media. My byline for a number of years was attached to crime and public safety pieces. I'm now dedicating my time and focus to social services - how we assist those who need a hand and what it means to all of our lives.

So, I come to you with a simple request: Can I be your microphone?

Let's briefly get back to the big Career Day question. I suppose journalism can be a mystery to those outside the hustle and bustle of the newsroom.

We get our ideas from brainstorming; we receive press releases and scour over public meeting agendas. We listen to the police scanner and hit the streets for local takes on larger issues. The best stories, though - the stories that resonate with people, start conversations and lead to positive change - most often come when a member of the community picks up the phone and says, "I have a story to tell."

I hope to cover a lot of ground moving forward. Help me make it happen.

Social services are a huge part of our community, and no, those services haven't gotten the press they deserve.

It touches all of us.

The shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., firmly illustrated the need for a real, concerted focus on the mental health needs of so many around us. Many are quietly working to help the addicted get clean and become productive members of our community. Innocent kids are being abused. Many aren't getting the financial support they need.

We live in a wonderful corner of the world, and it's tough to admit, but there are a lot of hungry people in the Fox Valley.

Many who've worked hard for their entire lives have had to put their egos aside amid this lengthy period of economic hardship and acknowledge, "I really need some help."

The system touches more than those in need, however. It hits every one of us through our tax dollars. We pay to keep a strong, well-woven safety net in place for our neighbors who need it. When a struggling family falls through the cracks and loses their home, an entire neighborhood suffers the ramifications.

I want to point out the system's successes. I want to tell tales of redemption. I want to show how our taxes are strengthening our communities.

I also want to point out the work ahead of us. I want to determine whether we're getting the best bang for our buck. I expect to find some awesome stories. I also expect that I'll find some failures. When they emerge, I hope to present them alongside some possible solutions.

I've always taken pride in my craft and relished my opportunity to make a tremendous place to live an even better place to live. Knowledge is power. We can only improve by recognizing where we're at and putting the back foot in front of the first. Let's talk. Let's work together.

Share your stories and ideas. Drop an email. Pick up the phone. Follow me on Twitter. My handle is @JimCollar.

Reporters stumble upon articles in many ways, but are always at their best when amplifying the quietest of stories that deserve to be loud.

Can I be your microphone?

- Jim Collar: 920-993-1000, ext. 216, or

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