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COLUMN: From office crisis to a deep sleeper

Here are some of my recent thoughts, for whatever they're worth. Some are expansions on tweets.

Office emergency. Last week, a snack-addicted co-worker alerted me to a "crisis" in our office: Our pop vending machine was empty; not one brand was available. The snack machine only had 20 items left. This is the worst it's been, old-timers tell me. On the plus side, our vendor charges low prices. I, too, have a penchant for snacks, though I bring them from home.

We're all biased. When I was working at a newspaper in another town years ago, a competing paper billed itself as "non-biased." On its face, that was untrue. As humans, we all have biases, which are shaped by our experiences. We as reporters just need to put our biases in check when writing news stories. And if we don't, our readers will hold us accountable.

Have evidence. I saw someone tweet last week an area politician was a racist. The person deleted it soon afterward. This is a cautionary tale: Be really careful when you call someone a racist. There is plenty of racism out there, and we should call it out when we see it. But don't cheapen the term "racist" by throwing it out without evidence.

No more warmth. On Tuesday, Dec. 5, it was cloudy and windy. A co-worker complained about the wind, but I didn't mind the clouds or the breeze. After all, it was a balmy 65 at the time. The forecast for the next two weeks is quite a contrast: The mercury will rarely rise beyond the 30s. Tuesday, Dec. 5, marked the end of fall this year. It's jackets from here on out. 

Let sunshine in. The Fieldcrest school district deserves credit for its openness. It not only posts public records requests to its website, but also posts documents it releases in response. Government entities can spend a lot of time compiling documents in response to requests, particularly those that deal with finances. In many cases, the requesters show the records to a limited number of people. Why not post all of the documents online to keep constituents in the loop?

New name. Our newspaper is officially known as The Times. The NewsTribune in La Salle may have a good idea for changing our name. Let me explain: Recently, The Times and the NewsTribune have both covered the case against former State's Attorney Brian Towne. The latest hearings have been about a public records request from The Times related to the case. In two stories, the NewsTribune referred to The Times as "a local newspaper (not the NewsTribune)." Kind of has a nice ring to it.

Kudos to Streator police. The Streator Police Department releases daily logs that include major incidents in town. According to a log from last week, dispatchers received a call about "what appeared to be a dead body" rolled up in a carpet. It turned out the man was resting. Talk about a deep sleep. It's nice that the Streator Police Department gives the public a lot of information about its calls. It's a model for the Ottawa police and other agencies to follow.

David Giuliani is a reporter for The Times. His weekly column "As It Is" expands upon regular news coverage by adding his insight and ideas. He can be reached at 815-431-4041 or davidg@mywebtimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tt_dgiuliani.

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