Some exceptional reporting has taken place during the past week by the Hutchinson News. Yes, there have been a number of doubts expressed at how well the local paper would cover local news after being purchased by GateHouse Media, but reflecting on what has happened on numerous significant local stories has erased much of the doubt.
Especially noteworthy was the reporting by John Green following the county's recent public hearing on whether a wind farm should be developed in the Haven/Cheney Lake area. Green's accurate and full account of testimony laid out by proponents and opponents was journalism at its best. The paper's decision to cover those remarks in detail was a great commitment to the community importance of this debate and the eventual outcome.
The Hutchinson News was the only place people could get an in-depth account of what happened along with critical information printed in advance of the hearing. Despite the hearing's length, it was a perfect example of how live radio coverage could and should have been carried but unfortunately even the town's only news/talk station missed that opportunity. It would have attracted a huge broadcast audience, been worthy of delaying or dumping regular programming because of vital community importance and interest along with an outstanding example to site when the station's public interest license came up for renewal.
In the April 7 paper, the Hutchinson News again performed a difficult and exceptional job of humanizing Hutchinson and Reno County's opioid deaths, which reached a record high in 2018. Reporter Michael Stavola and others working on the story brought this growing crisis into better focus.
Legislative forums and other political news always gets great coverage from veteran reporter Mark Clarkin. Long time photo-journalist Sandra Milburn is one of the best in Kansas. Special flash-back editions of decades old stories important to Hutchinson's development have been fascinating to read.
Print and other forms of news coverage continue to have a struggle in changing social media and often apathetic society, but the local reporting we have witnessed in recent days brings much credit to the Hutchinson News and its staff.