Like it or not, mirror is reflection of us

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sometimes looking in the mirror can be tough, even troubling, particularly when what we see isn’t what we expect, or desire.

We like to think of ourselves as being Snow White in appearance, the fairest of them all as the Disney story goes.

But the reality is, we’re all far from perfect.

In some ways, what we see is a reflection of our own perspective on the world around us. If we tend to be a positive person, we see the world in a positive light.

If we see things as my work friend once joked — “my glass is half-empty, with toxic sludge” — invariably things may not be as rosy.

Mirrors have been on my mind lately after a recent conversation with a local man who said he no longer subscribes to the newspaper because of what he sees on its pages — too much crime.

It’s the first, and only, complaint I’ve heard like this in quite a while.

His belief is that the newspaper is stoking negativity in the community by “playing up” news of local criminal activity. He believes that’s to the detriment of both the community’s reputation as well as the coverage of more important news.

The man believes the newspaper should simply publish a list of criminal reports and arrests inside its pages and let that be enough coverage of most crimes, leaving the front page for less negative news.

As I listened to his points, I understand his perspective. He sees on the pages of the newspaper, the reflection of a Natchez that has changed since his youth.

As we talked and tried to understand one another’s perspectives, I shared with the man that I’ve always viewed that the newspaper is a mirror of the community that it covers.

Sometimes that mirror needs a quick squirt of glass cleaner and a few paper towels to regain a clear view of its reflective role. Perhaps the man’s call served that purpose, to question the clarity of the newspaper’s role as community mirror.

For more than 150 years, our newspaper has worked hard to balance news people need to know — if someone is arrested for shooting someone in my neighborhood, I’d like to know about it — with what they want to know.

Our law enforcement community, in my way of seeing it, has in recent years taken its job much more seriously. We have leaders in all the major agencies focused on ridding our community of as much crime as possible, and their hard work has led to some major criminal cases of late. Hopefully, criminals will soon learn they better go elsewhere to avoid getting caught. Law enforcement efforts have probably led to at least the perception that more crime is being committed — and reported.

Our newsroom works to keep such news in balance with other, happier, more positive news. We’ve done this for years; however, it’s easy to miss. For decades, the newspaper has purposely included fixed weekly features that ensure we have places set aside for lighter news.

We publish features such as The Dart, Bright Future, Faith & Family and more each week. But like looking in the mirror, all of that beauty that’s in our community and reported on our pages each week can be overlooked when we see a glaring criminal pimple or a new government corruption wrinkle.

We’re going to work to draw more attention to the positive, good stories from our community through a weekly recap of “stories you may have missed last week.”

It is not unlike how we all view the world. When you drive through Natchez do you see its beauty or do you see its flaws?

Do you see a lush, green and beautiful, historic city or do you see a pothole laden, criminal town on the brink of utter destruction.

If that were a scale, unfortunately some loud voices in the community believe Natchez is on the brink. The truth is: we’re far better off, particularly if we focus not on our flaws but on the greater beauty. Flaws can be fixed, working together, but if all we do is stare at the problems and complain about them, we begin to feel ugly and eventually blame the mirror for how it makes us feel.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.