Because you need to know

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2018

One of my favorite “Far Side” cartoons takes place in hell.

There is a man, a new arrival to hell, standing before the devil, who is behind a counter with a wide grin in his face. Behind him are two doors. One says, “Damned if You Do;” the other says “Damned if You Don’t.”

To me, that cartoon symbolizes what I, or any journalist, deal with on a daily basis.

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Recording the comings and goings of a community can be a challenge. You sometimes walk a fine line between “damned if your do, damned if you don’t,” because you’re dealing with human beings who are apt to change their minds at the last minute and turn in a different direction. You have to learn to adjust and adapt to tell the story of a community.

The media has been under attack across the nation and while small papers are spared the bulk of the attacks, they still get their share of criticism. People call and complain about their arrest or the arrest their relative is in the paper. Local politicians claim some article treated them unfairly. Someone wants to know why an article was written about one person or group and not another, and are quick to point out how shady or horrible the person or group is.

Makes you wonder why people stay in a business where abuse is heaped on them.

That’s because people need to know what’s going on in their community, and one of the organizations most interested in the community is the local media.

Does that mean we get everything that happens? No, we miss some things in the pace of putting the paper together during the day, but it’s not for trying.

Chronicling the daily lives and events of a community, is a vital function of community papers. We’re usually the first source people turn to (after the gossip) to find out what’s going. We’re the ones who try and fill in the blanks between the “did you hear” and “well I’ll be.”

The record we leave behind in the form of a printed newspaper will be available long after most of us are gone. And that record will be read by future generations trying to research a school paper, trying locate relatives or just curious to learn what was going on way back when. We do that now, with the Old Post Files, which give a glimpse of what happened in the past.

And for a city like Vicksburg and its residents who have a strong interest in the past and how it changed the city, our articles keep that interest alive, whether it is writing about the past or writing something now that will become history several years from now.

As a community paper, we have a duty to report the news, good or bad, positive or negative. A common word being bandied about is “transparency.” It is our job to provide that transparency as best we can for our readers.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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