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About this election, that priest, those obits

First, apologies for the first line of last week’s column.

This spring’s hyper-local election will be April 9, not April 2.

Of course, Election Day can be today if you choose to take advantage of early voting opportunities.

Early voting is an option through April 6.

For most local folks who are registered to vote, no day will be Election Day this year.

They apparently don’t realize they are helping to elect a township road commissioner.

Go figure.

VOTERS IN ILLINOIS have every reason to be confused about the date of Election Day.

(This is the editor’s rationalization for getting it wrong.)

Since this editor arrived in Illinois almost 10 years ago, he has voted in February, March and April, in addition to the general elections in November.

He still hasn’t figured out the pattern (or logic) to choosing the date of the winter/spring election in Illinois.

In Indiana, which is the editor’s home state (Go, Hoosiers!), election dates are simple.

Primary/school board elections are always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May.

Just as the general election everywhere is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Why can’t Illinois standardize election dates?

NOBODY CALLED OR wrote to point out the erroneous election date.

Or to taunt the editor about making a mistake.

Maybe you didn’t notice.

Maybe you knew that, sooner or later, the editor would discover the error.

But the editor has heard recently from readers about other matters.

See what you think.

SHEILA SENT AN email to complain about the front page of our March 15 edition.

Specifically, she objected to the article about the removal of the Rev. John Gow from St. Patrick Parish in Dixon amid a criminal investigation into his computer use.

“Does this warrant such front page news?” she asked.

Let’s answer that with a question: Are people throughout the community talking about it?

If so, then it’s news.

And in this case, it certainly is front page news.

WHAT MAKES ANY particular story worthy of being placed on Page 1?

“There are no criminal charges pending, but that seems to be enough for ... the Telegraph editor to take this and run with it in a very nasty way,” Sheila wrote. “He alludes to trouble. He knows nothing.”

Well, in this case, he knows that the priest at one of two Catholic churches in town has been removed from his post, and that police are investigating how he used his computer.

When we try to determine how “newsworthy” a story is, we look at how many news “factors” are involved.

This story involves three primary drivers of news:

Proximity – It’s a local story of intense public interest.

Prominence – The person at the center of the story is widely acquainted and of importance in the community.

Unusual – Has this ever happened here before?

Any story that hits that trifecta will end up on the front page.

Yes, there is a lot about the story we don’t know.

We will continue to look into it.

WHEN HE RENEWED his subscription, Gerald sent along a note to say the newspaper is doing “a great job.”

But he had one gripe; he doesn’t think there should be a charge to publish obituaries.

“It’s real news,” he wrote. “It’s a shame to pay when you die!”

You’re right, Gerald. Deaths are news.

But published obituaries include a lot of non-news, too.

Did you see that obituary we published last week, the one that took up more than a quarter of a page?

If every obituary took up a quarter of a page, we wouldn’t get much else into the newspaper some days.

We will publish a basic death notice for free. It includes the name, age and residence of the person who died, along with the date and location of death. If the family wishes, we will also publish the cause of death.

That’s the basic news that people need.

As a service, we offer – for a charge – longer obituaries for families that want to include more details, even those that would not qualify as news.

And some families choose to use a lot of details about the history, club memberships, and distant relatives.

That’s not news, but it’s important for families to memorialize their loved ones.

So we offer them the choice to do that.

Whether they accept that offer is entirely up to them.

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