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Editorial Testimonials

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Donna Sines

Donna Sines

By Donna Sines
Community Vision Executive Director

The Osceola News and Gazette is a good example of an outlet for civic journalism. And, thank goodness we have always had the benefit of such a communication tool.
Ironically, I wrote the High School Highlights column for its predecessor, The Osceola Sun, 46 years ago. I mention this because there would not be a column featuring a 16-year old’s take on the upcoming football rivalry between the Osceola Kowboys and St. Cloud Bulldogs in a metro newspaper. Yet, there is a place for it in the hometown paper because this is what hometown life is all about. Close half of the respondents to Community Vision’s annual survey (968 people) noted maintaining a small town feel, in the midst of rapid growth, should be maintained. A significant percentage of our neighbors cited something pretty intangible as an important local value.

In Osceola County, we are more than part of a metro area; we are a unique community. Some publications attempt to temper the bad with the good. Traveling news trucks rarely arrive on the scene to offer congratulations or share a feel good moment. In fact, when someone sees them go by a common comment is often, “Oh boy, what’s going on now?” and not in a good way. In contrast, the Osceola News-Gazette recently featured the graduation on Community Vision’s Project OPEN class. The story was a good one; Moms with kids, down on their luck, many precariously housed in shelters, or hotels, struggling to overcome the bounds of poverty by studying five to six hours a night on order to achieve a health care certification from TECO. All have individual paths that brought them to this point in time but became a family over the a few months as they bond together to change the trajectory of their lives. Their hard work is worthy of a celebration. It was no easy task. However, they now have a path out of poverty through a career track. In front of family and their children, they shined that evening during a ceremony and reception at hosted by Florida Hospital Kissimmee. A message, that education is the key to a better life is a lesson we hope isn’t lost on the children of the graduates. The News-Gazette article shared the excitement of the moment with the community and they even put a video on their website to encapsulate the spirit and emotion of the event with pictures and music. As a result of the article, Community Vision received additional inquiries from potential candidates for the program and it was something the Osceola community could be proud of. The community had a direct role in financially supporting this now, national model, with monetary and in-kind donation.

There is a role for both entities although frankly it is increasingly difficult to find the heroes amid the villains in the mainstream news feeds. The exception may be the recent coverage of the massacre in Orlando. This horrible incident was both the region’s darkest moment and finest hour. All media was totally focused on identifying heroism, honoring those who lost their lives, covering memorials and being a vital information outlet during the surreal days that has followed. We are “One Orlando” because together we stood for love instead of hate and the media promoted and continues to promote that theme over and over again. Sure, evil exists but we all wanted to see the outpouring of support, caring, generosity, love and compassion we all craved in the wake of hate and tragedy. It made us feel a sense of pride and an instant connection to the greater community.  It is my fervent hope that as the days turn into weeks the unity we all currently feel is not picked apart by aggressive reporters looking for some scoop. What you have witnessed on TV this week and across national and local press coverage is civic journalism. The kind of journalism our hometown papers look to instill without a disaster involved. They are the local vehicles to a sense of community we desire to be a part of. They are part of the equation for a positive sense of place… a united Osceola. They report the bad news too but we can count on them to also be there for the proud moments like Project OPEN graduation because CivicCommunity Vision Logo-1 Journalism instills civic pride.