Of all the adjectives the public uses to describe newspapers and news reporters, "empathetic" is probably not one of them.

In fact, every newsroom I have been in has worked with care and sensitivity for its subjects and for the public. The axiom "minimize harm" is a guiding principle.

That doesn't mean mistakes aren't made. Like our subjects, reporters are human, too, and won't always make the right move.

It's how you respond when you do make a mistake that is important. And how you make decisions the next time.

I have been thinking a lot about journalistic responsibility the past couple of weeks.

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The death of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Paul Nord, one of three National Guard soldiers killed Dec. 5 in a helicopter crash near St. Cloud, raises many questions about the newspaper's responsibility -- to the news, and to its community.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, when the names of Nord and the other two victims were made public, our Perham Focus reporter treaded carefully, in ways statewide media might not. A reporter from Minneapolis or St. Paul will likely never talk to some of their Perham sources ever again.

Our reporters likely will. Our staff might see those family or friends at a restaurant, or in church, or at a festival.

Telling the story of Nord's life and, yes, his death is part of our mission. The newspaper is often called that "first draft of history." We know that the work we do will be clipped out and put into folders and kept and passed down for generations.

To be sensitive to our neighbors and the communities we serve means we may not get exactly the same story as other news outlets.

But it is important that our community trusts us to do the right thing, day after day, issue after issue, for years to come.

Healthy discussion

Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 18, the Tribune will launch a new "health" topic page in the paper.

This page will be in our monthly rotation with the WAVE teen and schools page, History and Faith. It replaces the occasional Travel page.

In reading through some of the user stats on dl-online.com, health and healthy living jumped out as topics of high interests for our readers.

Interestingly, Marie Johnson at the Tribune had already been thinking about doing more with health and health care coverage in our pages. So our timing is just right.

Our first story will talk about maintaining a healthy outlook -- even while we are standing around the grazing table at holiday parties.