Our View: Wishes for a safer, happier new year

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, 2014 will be in the books.

And as you can see from our Top 10 news stories of the year, 2014 was certainly a newsworthy year in the Bayou Region.

But there seemed to be a troubling trend in our Top 10 – one we hope our area can rectify by the time our 2015 Top 10 list comes out one year from now.

Half of our list consisted of what many would consider “bad news.”

Now with that said, our area should give ourselves some credit. Our top story of the year was the Houma area’s notation of being the second happiest city in America. That’s a designation we should all be proud of, and it shows that we don’t let the negativity around us drag us down.

We also have a well-documented booming oil and gas industry as well as many other positive features of our area – something you can read about very extensively in our Business News Top 10 found later in the issue.

Plus, although we can’t speak for other publications, we’d be willing to bet that other newspapers in other markets would be including far more than half of their top stories of the year into a category that would be considered “bad.” Just take a look at what happens in larger, more dangerous cities – one of which is just about an hour to the east.

But a gander through our Top 10 features a court ruling regarding a man who beheaded his son, a local teacher and coach arrested for exposing a student to AIDS and three children lost far too soon for different yet unfortunate reasons.

Albeit those stories may be covered in a month – not a year – by other publications in other areas, they don’t make their effects any less painful for the families of the Bayou Region who had to suffer through them.

And this edition of The Times and this column isn’t meant to re-victimize anyone or drum up bad memories, however we merely want them to stand as a reminder unfortunate events do happen close to home too, and it’s up to us to stop them from happening in the future. That’s something we can do if we put our minds and our hearts toward that goal.

And let’s not forget about the wonderful things that happen in our community – such as a Houma woman coming in third in the 2014 Miss USA Pageant or the first black judge being elected to Terrebonne District Court after winning unopposed – both of which can be found in our Top 10. Then there are the many heartwarming and happy stories you can find in our Neighbors section on a weekly basis.

But here at The Times we pride ourselves on our “Handshake with the Community” status.

Sometimes that means reporting “good news” stories that you want to read.

Sometimes that means reporting “bad news” stories that you need to read.

And at the end of the day, it is up to you, the community, which route we take on any given story. We don’t make the news. We report the news.

By the time tomorrow comes around, you’ll be hearing lots about New Year’s resolutions. Some will be kept, but most will get broken. One that we should try to collectively keep is improving our society every day. If we can band together and make a conscious effort to do that, the types of stories in next year’s Top 10 will be far different.

So let’s make a deal in 2015 that if you keep the news positive, so will we. After all, that’s what our “Handshake with the Community” is all about.