Re: Front Page Scouter A week or so ago,
Mark Ranzenberger (ranzenberger@hdtinfo.COM)
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 07:37:32 +0100
A week or so ago, there was a posting about the Knoxville
News-Sentinel's front page story on Scoutmaster Bob Spreng of Troop 17.
The entire story is posted on the Knoxville newspaper's web site at
It's a good story. It appears to be accurate in its depiction of an
active Scout troop and what it does. As we all know, it's challenging to
see the Scouts portrayed in a positive light in the press these days. I
wondered how this happened, so I contacted Chuck Cavalaris, the
News-Sentinel writer who did the piece.
Here's what he told me: The story is part of a continuing series on
people who make a difference in their communities. Mr. Cavalaris, who is
a sports writer for the News-Sentinel, said he was tired of seeing front
pages of his newspaper full of all kinds of bad news -- crime, death,
corruption, the usual stuff. He pitched his editors on a weekly series
to highlight good people in the Knoxville area.
"My first one was a high school athletic director who could have been a
big-league umpire, but chose to work with kids," Cavalaris told me. "No.
2 was a young doctor who volunteers her time as a trainer for high
school and small college football teams. No. 3 was a man who built a
ball field in his back yard so kids would have a place to play. No. 4
was Bob Spreng and Troop 17."
He's asked his readers for help in finding people who make a
difference. A Journalism professor at the University of Tennessee told
Cavalaris about Mr. Spreng and Troop 17 -- the prof's son is in Troop
The rest came together fairly easily, Cavalaris said.
But if we look at the story, there's a _story_ to be told here. There's
conflict -- kids against their own fear and inexperience, Scouts pitting
their skills against an unforgiving nature, and learning to put the two
It's an adventure.
It's a game.
It's what we do.
But it took a skilled, professional writer to tell that story. Most
Scouters couldn't have done it. We do other things.
And certainly, it's worth noting that the Knoxville News-Sentinel had
an agenda. They wanted to tell stories of people making a difference,
and this story fit that agenda. There's nothing wrong with that. It's
how the news business works and that won't change, any more than
"trustworthy" or "reverent" can be dropped from the Scout Law.
The trick is to get on the agenda. A college prof -- a dad -- put the
Boy Scouts there in Knoxville because he apparently noted the
newspaper's openness to it.
Newspapers and other media outlets are becoming more open to their
readers/viewers/listeners/users and their concerns. It's a matter of
survival to listen to customers.
We have an agenda, too. If we, as Scouters, pay attention, we'll find
opportunities for our agenda and our local press outlets' agendas
(agendae?) to mesh.
SM, Troop 582
Harbor Beach, Mich
Editor, Huron Daily Tribune
A Hearst Newspaper
Bad Axe, Mich.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City