Some issues strike closer to the heart of a newspaper reporter than others. Perhaps it's a tear-inspiring story of a mother's sacrifice, or the outrage of a criminal justice system sending away an innocent person. Or, in the case of someone at the Spokesman-Review, it's horses.
Specifically the therapeutic riding of horses — an issue certainly worthy of attention, no doubt, but with so many local groups doing so many wonderful things, at what point do we begin to tune out the horse stories?
Consider the centerpiece of this morning's Today section, featuring a story about a great local organization doing therapeutic rides and a second article showing that polls and studies support the use of horses in therapy.
Now consider a story on March 9 about horses helping soldiers.
Then one in October about horses helping patients via hippotherapy "to increase hip and pelvic range of motion."
Then a story in August about horses helping "at-risk kids."
Then one last April about a benefit dinner for a therapeutic-horse group.
Then one in September 2010 about how (for a second time) soldiers benefit from therapeutic riding. (See March 9.)
Then another one in November 2009 about the "horsepower of healing."
And on and on...
In between there were lots of briefs and event blurbs for these wonderful organizations — which The Inlander has written about more than once as well.
Of course, it's standard practice in newsrooms to recycle "evergreen" stories from time to time. In my career, I've heard lots of different theories about the appropriate gestation period between each recycled article, typically ranging between two and five years, and as long as seven.
Perhaps this is simply a reflection that life is indeed speeding up. Attention spans shortened. An endless stream of "content."
Or perhaps newsrooms are losing institutional knowledge — the people who could remember when the paper published the latest article on a certain topic.
Or perhaps someone really just loves horses.