Staff editorial – 3/11

Chronicle members practice ‘true journalism,’ travel for the truth

If you want the truth, put on your walking shoes.

Our reporters Blake Nissen, Isabel Marotta, and Asia Porter were quick to discover the need for this when they left the suburban bloc for Mason County. What they were to find was a shoe and leather journalism, a stepping out of the nest and into the hills.

It was itchy, uncomfortable—because the lifestyles that awaited them were opposite to their own.

After holding their breath on crazed, state-route mountains, the trio stopped at the Kwik Shoppe gas station, where a pound of deli meat could be purchased as 10 gallons.

In its lot, the trio spotted a camouflage truck, and they all lamented that they had narrowly missed Drive Your Tractor to School Day. The parking lots at Mason County High School, they said, are gravel, with no lines to divide one spot from another. There are numbers on their parking passes but none on the ground.

The students there live out of arm’s reach from one another; most have to drive their neighbor’s house. It is an expansive county, big enough to net the Kroger in which our reporters hoped to meet Mason County parents.

Profiling random strangers in a supermarket to discover whether or not they had high schoolers was no Masonite’s idea of a good time. It took Asia, Isabel, and Blake tens of awkward interactions before they found Mason County parents.

The Kroger, they insist, was minutes away from the school. But several parents told them: “We live in Adams County.” The two counties are an hour’s road trip apart: why didn’t they just hit a Kroger closer to home?

There isn’t one. Mason County’s Kroger—and Mason County’s separate Kroger liquor store—are the closest.

This wasn’t the nuts and bolts interview for which our reporters had come. This wasn’t a Mason County High School calendar pockmarked with more snow days than we could ever dream. This was a way of life Mason had not known since its inception.

It was an experience, but not in the empty sense; it was an experience as in they had popped the Mason bubble, and the outside didn’t disappoint. We are all proud to be from Warren County, from Mason, Ohio, but we need not pass every day of our lives inside of it.

The ants that dance on our skin when we encounter a stranger, or a strange situation, will teach us how to come out of our shells, how to wear down the leather on our shoes.

It will teach us to be observers, to be pursuers of truth—and if we’re persistent, it will teach us to be reporters.