Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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2018 highlights—Things I learned from Lansing news

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.

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:

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.

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.

Stories have layers

chimney swiftYou 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:

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 — because they receive new Lansing information in their email each morning. Use the link below to join them and stay informed:



Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.