Editorial

Stories blur lines between 'local,' world news

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Local media like the Gazette put a premium on local news because let’s face it, nobody is more interested in nearby events than our readers.

There are times, however, that the lines are blurred, and “local” news is just as interesting to people thousands of miles away as to people within a few miles of the event.

This is one of those times.

As this is being written, we’re localizing the story about a case in Arapahoe that involved the U.S. Attorney, FBI, Furnas County Sheriff’s Office and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It allegedly involved a plot to kidnap the sheriff and a Tennessee judge and subject them to a trial in a self-proclaimed court in Canada.

We’re also assembling details about a Hero Flight this weekend, honoring Vietnam veterans by a trip to Washington D.C.

We know they included Carl Seabolt of Benkelman, Bruce Shipshock of McCook and Arthur Hawkinson of Stratton as well as others, all part of a generation of military personnel that was more likely to be shunned on `return from that controversial conflict than welcomed home.

Congratulations to organizers for making the effort to honor a group of deserving veterans, delayed as it might be.

Southwest Nebraska was in the national spotlight in another instance this weekend, when Fadi Boukaram was interviewed by Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

Boukaram, a native of Lebanon who is visiting every town named Lebanon in the United States, recently stopped in McCook on his way to Lebanon, Neb., as part of his photographic quest.

When a bar patron began to confront him about his Middle Eastern heritage, the bartender, Alyssa, ushered the other patron out of the bar, and “comped” Boukaram’s drinks for the rest of the night.

The following morning, he found a note on the windshield of his RV.

“Fadi, there’s a lot of hatred in this world. I hope you meet more good souls than bad ones. Have safe travels. — Alyssa.”

Lebanon, Neb., like the other Lebanons, was part of an exchange program with the country that saw famous Cedars of Lebanon planted in the American towns.

Charles Harris, who was born in Lebanon, Neb., but grew up in McCook, was among American delegates who went to Lebanon in March 1955.

Six returned, but Harris, 24, stayed behind to go on a tour of the Holy Land. Somehow, he was shot to death in a no-man’s-land in the divided city of Lebanon, and his body was never returned to his family.

There is much more to the story, including Boukaram’s speculation that there may have been CIA involvement.

Yes, local news is important to local media, but that doesn’t completely address the question: What is “local?”

You can listen to the NPR Weekend Edition audio here and read Boukaram’s blog here.

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