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Jackie Carpenter, take a bow!

Jackie Carpenter, take a bow!
Jackie Carpenter, take a bow!
Jackie Carpenter, right, retiring editor of The Corydon Democrat, gets a hug from her daughter/caterer Vickie McDougal of Tujunga, Calif., at an open house in honor of Carpenter Thursday in the newsroom of O'Bannon Publishing. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

Jackie Carpenter, take a bow. For 23 years, Jackie Carpenter served as the channel through which we received much of our local news. She got us to events on time, informed us of old businesses moving out and new businesses moving in, and always reported on necessary routine and the occasional controversial public meetings.
Although flashing lights rarely proclaimed that Jackie was at work and doing a great job, she is of the stuff that makes communities really function. Good, solid, everyday nonself serving stewardship of one’s skills and contribution. Jackie as a reporter, managing editor and now as the retiring editor of The Corydon Democrat newspaper has spent her years making life a bit better for all of us here in Harrison County.
Often it takes something like a retirement for us to stop and realize what has been going on around us. We take so much for granted that is with us everyday. Believe me, we at The Corydon Democrat newspaper are doing a lot of reflecting these days. Jackie could have developed an adversarial relationship with the court system during her many years of covering people’s run-in with the law; after all, the subject matter was often controversial and cantankerous in itself. But a newspaper’s charge is to be the instrument of public notice, not an inflamer of emotions or a player in the news itself. As a true journalist, Jackie always knew this and practiced her trade as a professional. She kept channels of communication open between institutions and people so that information could become public. That is no small feat. Take a bow, Jackie Carpenter.
I surmise that for Jackie, being an active working member of the community was not just a job but a way of life. She and her husband, Virgil, have volunteered as participants at public events for years.
Jackie can wear a contemplative expression when difficult issues arise, but she always seems to end the discussion with a flash of her trademark big smile. I’m confident her disposition is one of the reasons that those from whom she needed to extract sensitive answers over the years speak so highly of her today.
Jackie and Randy West, who served as the editor for years before she assumed the role at his retirement, have always been a terrific working team. They worked so productively together during those difficult transition months after Frank’s death. No turf wars between them ever existed. This in itself is something never to be taken for granted. When Frank assumed the full-time office of lieutenant governor and later as governor, he did so with great confidence in the quality of the family newspaper he left behind. He knew that a well-qualified staff was in the newsroom making wise decisions in regard to the newspaper for which he cared so much. I owe the whole staff a big ‘Thank you’ for carrying the load so very well.
I am fierce in my belief that a free and responsible press is vital to a participatory democracy. If we don’t have access to true information, how can we make decisions or take actions that are responsible? One of the scariest developments of our time for me is the slow tightening of controls over the press in some of the ex-Soviet countries. In our own country, we constantly have to monitor the infusion of contrived ‘word spin’ into our news. And don’t we feel duped when we find out that news was ‘leaked’ from a source on purpose to give us an impression that is false. Over the last months, there has been intense national conversation over the access to information leading up to the war in Iraq.
We have a heightened awareness of the role and requirements for good journalism. We must never take a free press for granted.
In a time when anyone can post anything on the Internet, it makes it even more crucial to have a news source that can be held accountable. We think a proven, local community newspaper is vital. We may be a small newspaper in a small community, but our needs as a nation start here. Our lives are an important part of the total network we call the ‘global living room.’ If life doesn’t work on the local level, it isn’t going to work as we individual locals join into a complex international system.
Jackie’s retirement is a time to recognize the need and value of everyday reporting on the workings of a community ‘ our community. When I hold her record up to such scrutiny, it fairs well and deserves a round of applause and big thanks.
Take a bow, Jackie Carpenter!