WESTERHOLD: We want to connect ...

... WITH WARRIORS The Register's Away for the Holidays program to connect readers with U.S. service men and women overseas is
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010



The Register's Away for the Holidays program to connect readers with U.S. service men and women overseas is under way.

Last year we heard from readers and members of the military alike how the connections this created made a difference for them.

It also prompted us to look at how we could bring the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan home to readers. Like most newspapers, the Register subscribes to the Associated Press, and we receive "wire" feeds from AP correspondents from across the globe.

Those AP stories -- about casualties, the insurgency, the politics of war -- are important. We questioned, however, if they really conveyed the sacrifice being made by the individual soldiers and Marines serving this cause.

We decided to take every opportunity presented to tell those individual stories. Reporter Molly Linn, who now serves as a page designer with the Register, spearheaded the effort. The result was real-time coverage throughout the year from the battlefront provided by local men and women who are there.

Army Maj. Rich Ramsey's fourth installment detailing the former Huron man's experience working with Iraqi troops on the ground will be presented in tomorrow's paper. We plan to continue coverage like this, and similar efforts, into next year.

Away for the Holidays will be published Dec. 2. It puts faces to the names and gives readers the addresses where they can write and thank the warriors in service to their country.

If you know a member of the military who would like to hear from folks back home, mail the contact information and a photograph of the service member to: Away for the Holidays, Sandusky Register, 314 W. Market St., Sandusky 44870. The information also can be dropped off at the Register or e-mailed to karenmork@sanduskyregister.com.

We'll ask those service members to continue offering readers any information they want to share about their experiences and present it here unfiltered on the pages of the Register.


Editors and reporters here have been talking about the stories they hope to cover next year and how to provide that coverage to give readers the best and most complete information possible.

One of the goals in 2008 is to report on the healthcare crisis in ways it hasn't been written about before. The rising cost of healthcare affects nearly every facet of American life.

We'll write about what -- if anything -- is being done to bring spiraling costs into check. A healthcare crisis can devastate a family both emotionally through the physical trauma that occurs and financially through the astronomical costs associated with it.

We've looked at how the Register -- and newspapers in general -- have covered issues like this in the past and hope we can provide something different.

This won't be simply a series of stories over a weekend, although that might fit into the plan that evolves. It will be a yearlong series, rather, and we hope to provide ongoing coverage that builds on the information we gather.

We want to take similar approaches to other big-picture issues important to readers and are reviewing a number of other topics and approaches.

If there is an issue you want tackled call me at 419-609-5866 and tell me what you think. You also can e-mail mattwesterhold@sanduskyregister.com


I hope to convince city editors Cheryl Welch and Karen Mork this is a worthy idea. I served as a city editor at my former newspaper and in 2004 I told a reporter I wanted her to interview President Bush as he stumped the campaign trail.

"Yeah, sure. No problem," she told me, dismissing the request.

"No, I'm serious," I said. "Call his campaign team every week, twice a week or every day if you have to. Ask to speak to the president. I want that interview."

That demand evolved into an ongoing series of stories chronicling reporters' efforts to get face time with the presidential candidates. It was serious at times and tongue-in-cheek at other points, but readers responded and seemed to enjoy the insight it provided.

She never did get Bush, but days before the 2004 presidential election that reporter was sitting aboard Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign jet for a 20-minute talk with the Massachusetts senator.

My best guess right now: Hillary or Obama for the Democrats and Rudy or McCain for the GOP.

I want those interviews.