Much of the news unhappy

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2004

By Staff
The front page of this newspaper doesn't have a theme. Its space isn't reserved for any particular blend of news or feature articles. Likewise, there isn't any specific type of photo, in terms of size or content, we at the paper go looking for when we're putting the front page together.
More than any other page in the newspaper, page one is an ever-changing canvas, one painted anew each edition to reflect the people and events most prominent during the days leading up to its publication.
That makes it, in many ways, the most exciting page in the paper, at least for those of us involved in putting it together. Producing a good front page entails the sort of work most of us envisioned when we went into this business -- looking for news and feature ideas, making interesting stories of them by deadline and rolling with any last minute changes that may come along.
We're acutely aware that it's the first page of the paper you see each Wednesday and Sunday, and like any group of people trying to make a good impression through their work, we keep in mind the importance of that impression.
Page one's unplanned nature has its good side, offering ourselves and our readers something completely different each time out. But it also has what might be called a bad side, in that the news it delivers, and the topics into which it delves are not always the brand of information we're happy to be passing along.
Our front page today is one such page, in that much of the news it contains is almost unbearably sad, and the predominant topic is, as much as anything else, the fragility of young life.
Two local teens, both seniors at W.S. Neal High School, were killed Saturday night in a traffic accident on Hwy. 87, between here and Milton -- something you already know just by having glanced at the front page of today's paper.
The account of their deaths, there in black and white, serves as yet another ready reminder of just how fleeting life can be, even for those who are just getting acquainted with it.
As is the case with almost all accounts of tragedy, just about the only thing left to the imagination is the lost potential of its victims, the might-have-beens that crop up in the aftermath of such accidents.
Page one isn't the place to go into that, however, nor is this page.
But both are appropriate places for pointing out something which, while difficult to discuss, bears mentioning for the good of others as they plan to get behind the wheel.
According to Florida Highway Patrol reports, neither of the teens was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident which claimed their lives.
While we'll never know if being belted in would have prevented or lessened this tragedy -- a might-have-been too painful to contemplate -- the possibility alone should serve as a reminder to all of us, especially other young people, of the importance of seatbelt usage.
That's not an attempt to make sense of something there's no making sense of. It's just another way of looking at the bad news we've brought you today – hopefully a way that leads to less of it in the future.