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When War News Becomes Your News

Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael P. Shannon, 52, was laid to rest Tuesday in of Canadensis, Penn. Shannon died on Jan. 17 while serving in Afghanistan. DAVID KIDWELL/Pocono Record hide caption

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Earlier this week, I wrote a commentary on why big media matters. I was thinking about the Haiti earthquake and taking note of the fact that reporters from most of the big news organizations were on the ground before most of the so-called first responders were, including the U.S. military.

Now, I want to take a moment to talk about the local media, the community papers and news outlets, and why they matter.

Recently, I had a personal experience that hit close to home.

We lost a family member In Afghanistan earlier this month. He was Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael P. Shannon.

You can imagine what that was like. The late night phone call, so late you just know something is wrong. The scramble to round up kids in college in different cities so they could hear the news for themselves from their mother before finding out about it in a text message (believe it, people really are that stupid). Anyway, it's still a shock.

The funeral was earlier this week.

And I have to tell you an amazing source of comfort was the coverage in the local newspaper from Michael's hometown.

It's hard to believe for some people I guess but there was something about it — the dignity, the appreciation — I can't even tell you how much it meant to the family.

I remember when I was a local reporter and I used to cover funerals and deaths of local people and sometimes your presence was welcomed and sometimes it wasn't. And there have been other times in my own family when tragic things have happened that have come to the attention of the news media. There have been, I can tell you, different opinions about how much interest was appreciated.

But for those of you who are inclined to see the media as always intrusive and unwelcome, think again. Click here to read one of the stories from Michael's local paper.

Words can't convey how much this hurts, but this comes close: