When it was brought to my attention that a Route 116 sign was upside down just outside The Evening Sun’s newsroom, I decided to make a short video to inform the public. That’s a journalist’s job, after all.
I posted it to the Facebook group, “If you grew up in Hanover, Pa you remember…..” and in 48 hours it was liked more than 60 times and had nearly 200 comments.
Some thought it was a neat way to cover a light topic, but others expressed that it was a waste of time. Amid the debate surrounding the definition of journalism was the question of who — the state’s Department of Transportation or Hanover Borough — was responsible for fixing the sign.
Evening Sun reporter Eric Blum made a call to the borough on Tuesday and was told they would be out shortly to fix it. On Wednesday, it remained upside down, reading more like “911” than “116.” That same Wednesday, I had to pay a parking ticket at borough hall. Upon doing so, I asked the secretary about the sign and was told it was up to PennDOT to fix.
I made sure to pepper social media with updates on developments in what the newsroom began to call #HanoverSigngate. So why care about an upside down sign?
Journalists don’t tell people what to think, but we do tell them what to think about. While an upside down sign is light-years from the Watergate scandal, I wanted people to know about it. And hey, maybe it will provoke a little change.
Being a journalist means caring about the community you report for and connecting with the people in it so as to gain a level of trust. I hope to have sparked some interest. I definitely intended to garner a chuckle or two.
More than any of that, I hope at least one person who saw my sign video now realizes that when something is going on in your community, anything, no matter the magnitude, journalists at The Evening Sun care about it.
If we stop caring about minor infrastructure peeves, how can we ever expect to see a renovated theater? As some say, it’s the little things.
And make no mistake, we want to hear from you. All of you. Journalism thrives on public participation and feedback. Whether it’s upside down way-finding signage, municipal budgets, graffiti at a school, a car crash, an astounding feat or just a random day in the life, we want to tell these stories. And we need the public’s participation and trust to do so.