2018 was a big year in Lansing, and The Lansing Journal recorded hundreds of stories. In these last days of 2018 and the opening days of 2019, we share some highlights chosen by different members of The Lansing Journal writing team. Melanie Jongsma is a founding member of the Lansing Journal, and she believes that Lansing deserves a reliable, balanced source of information. Below are her reflections on 2018.
by Melanie Jongsma
Throughout 2018, The Lansing Journal published hundreds of stories in more than a dozen categories—and there were many more stories that we just didn’t have the time or availability to cover. I appreciate this end-of-the-year series because it gives me a chance to page through the editorial calendar and revisit important Lansing events. In selecting the highlights below, I chose to focus on things I learned from the 2018 stories I worked on.
News happens everywhere
One advantage I have as a full-time writer for The Lansing Journal is that I am often available to follow up on news that is happening all around me. The following are all stories that I encountered as I was picking up groceries, walking the dogs, or driving around town. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and the people involved were gracious enough to answer a few questions:
- Carrying the Special Olympics torch through Lansing (June 12, 2018)
- Seatbelt saved driver’s life in Thanksgiving accident (November 22, 2018)
- Quick facts about the Tuesday morning accident on Torrence (September 11, 2018)
- LPD and TFS use local talent in educational video (October 11, 2018)
- Officers respond to car vs. deer
Culture is complicated
When I first saw the image posted on Facebook of a Halloween decoration that appeared to represent a lynching, I was upset. When I talked to the residents in the Schultz Park neighborhood where that decoration was displayed, I felt relief. When I interviewed the Morales family and learned about their background, I gained understanding. This incident was a good example of how everyone can be right, and the situation can still turn out wrong. I learned some things about relationships, emotions, culture, and the ongoing work of communicating through difficult times.
- Schultz Park neighbors defend Halloween display (September 26, 2018)
Information inspires action
Over and over again, I was impressed to see Lansing residents taking action simply because they received information. Attendance at Citizens Police Academy, Community Clean-up Day, and early voting were all higher than normal this year, and many people told me it was because “I read about it in The Lansing Journal.” Stories like the ones below all confirmed that Lansing residents don’t have to be persuaded to get involved; they just need to be informed.
- LPD hosts “largest class” for Citizens Police Academy (January 2018)
- Record numbers turn out for Clean-up Day (May 2018)
- Crowd gathers to welcome Lansing veterans (July 2018)
- Village Board considers removing limits on number of massage parlors, tattoo shops, salons (August 2018)
- Early voting begins October 22 (October 2018)
- Lansing’s flag depository offers respectful disposal of old flags (July 2018)
Stories have layers
You wouldn’t think that a construction site and a 70-year-old flock of birds would bring people together, but this summer’s saga of the Coolidge chimney swifts turned into a unique mix of activism, education, and community. I enjoyed learning about chimney swifts, but to me, the Swifties were the real story:
- Of swifts and Swifties (June 17, 2018)
- Coolidge chimney swifts make Lansing their summer home (June 14, 2018)
Sometimes news is just fun
As a Lansing Journalist, this year I watched a tree move across the street, I rode my bike in torrential rains, I sang Happy Birthday to a 111-year-old man, I attended a Mexican rodeo, and I felt like I met Ann Landers. All of this was Lansing news, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
I consider it a blessing to have work that is meaningful and interesting, that challenges me to stay curious and keep learning. And I look forward to continuing the adventure in 2019.
Subscribers to The Lansing Journal are almost guaranteed to learn an average of three new things each day—they receive new Lansing information in their email each morning. Use the link below to join them and stay informed:
- 2018 highlights from Thornton Township (by Ernst Lamothe)
- 2018 highlights—History, sports, and millennials (by Carrie Steinweg)
- 2018 highlights—Reasons I’m proud of Lansing (by Katie Arvia)