Over the weekend, I received a Facebook message from the owner of a restaurant that I recently reviewed, thanking me for my coverage.

This might sound strange, coming from someone who works in journalism, but I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the idea that people read what I write. In college, I usually pretended that I turned my essays in to a professor who would throw them away before actually reading them.

So, it came as a bit of a shock to hear from someone about a story I wrote, let alone someone who had been positively affected by a story.

There’s so much negativity going around in 2022, whether you’re just keeping an eye on the political polarization in our country, the pandemic or the ongoing war in Ukraine. Add that to life’s usual setbacks, and it’s easy to get sucked into the constant negative feedback we’re hearing these days.

I know personally how easy it is to feel like sometimes the work we do as journalists doesn’t amount to much at the end of the day. Just take a look at the calls of fake news, and some of the calls we get being critical about stories we write, and it’s hard not to take those as indicative of a whole.

The weekend’s message, then, served as something of a wakeup call for me. Of course restaurant owners have a vested interest in what media and patrons say about them. And of course, a positive review might make a difference in convincing someone to visit or not.

All of this might seem obvious to someone with a passing knowledge of how media works, but it took that message to remind me of that fact.

The good journalism does isn’t limited to food and culture reporting, either.

Take our reporting on the historic cemeteries in Kendleton that appeared for the first time in last week’s edition. Shortly after we wrote about the disrepair they’d fallen into, a group of Fort Bend County residents from the Exchange Club visited the site and began work on cleaning the graves and restoring them to their former grandeur.

Far be it for us to claim sole responsibility for that. Former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, Nick Landoski and others claim a bigger share of ownership in bringing knowledge of the history to the public.

But I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the Fort Bend Star having a seat at the table, helping to bring knowledge about county history to our many readers.

Over the years, the Star and countless other newspapers like it have quietly helped positively change communities across the country – whether it’s pointing out bad policies on a municipal level or raising awareness about a community member dedicated to public good. The words we write have the potential to change lives.

I don’t write this as any sort of self-congratulatory note, but rather as a solemn reminder that we have a great responsibility to you, our readers, and everyone else living in Fort Bend County who might not actually read our paper on a weekly basis.

As the interaction with the restaurant showed me last week, those effects can come in big or small packages, but that doesn’t make any of them more or less important than the others.

We here at the Fort Bend Star value your feedback – the good and the bad. Seeking to tell stories across Fort Bend County’s business, municipal, cultural and educational communities, it’s only through feedback that we can dive into places we might not have found by ourselves and tell stories with the authenticity and understanding that they demand.

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