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An invitation to listen, discuss, engage with your local newspaper

I have to admit, over the course of my nearly 14 years in journalism, I've wondered if I should've chosen a different career.

This job is stressful. Deadlines are numerous and the workload intense. I've stayed up until 1 a.m. or awoken at 5 a.m. to finish writing articles for the Enterprise's Wednesday or Saturday editions.

There are no standard 8-to-5 hours for staff reporters. We work nights, covering school, township, city or county meetings where you may be the only citizen in attendance. We work weekends, attending community events with perhaps hundreds of people.

All reporters dread covering tragedy. We cringe when an accident, drowning, fire, crime is announced over the police scanner. No one wants to be witness to pain, injury or loss. As journalists and human beings, we are sensitive to the plight of victims and their families.

Having lived in the Park Rapids area since 1999, I worry that I may discover a friend, family member or acquaintance upon arriving at the scene. At the Enterprise, we always strive to be respectful.

Writing is just plain hard. It's difficult condensing a two-hour meeting about a complex subject into a concise article with the proper amount of vital information and interesting quotes.

And when you make a mistake — and what human being has never made a mistake? — it's public, it's humiliating and it upsets readers (rightly so.)

But, the truth is, I love my job.

During one summer weekend, I learned about a famous comic book artist born in 1927 in Menahga, watched cancer survivors celebrate their victory at Relay For Life, met Park Rapids' only female firefighter, congratulated a talented local teenager who won an art scholarship to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and donned protective gear to dip my finger into a bee-filled honeycomb at a local apiary managed by a Park Rapids High School graduate and his wife.

I'm constantly amazed by the talented, inventive, intelligent, remarkable people who are our neighbors. I'm honored to share their personal stories with Enterprise readers.

I'm also proud of the local newspaper's role in our community.

Democracy depends upon informed and active voters. The Enterprise is part of the checks and balances, serving as government watchdog and keeping citizens apprised so political power isn't concentrated in the hands of individuals or kept secret.

As a journalist, my job is to meticulously provide details so readers can reach their own conclusions.

As citizens, it is everyone's responsibility to seek out accurate information from reliable news sources. Let's listen to opposing viewpoints and engage in a discourse about topics that matter.

Your local newspaper aims to be an outlet for that dialogue.

So write those letters to the editor. Comment on our Facebook page. Share your unique stories. Participate in this community of voices.—By Shannon Geisen for the Park Rapids Enterprise

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