The also-common news stories we’re really thankful for

A too-common criticism of the news business is that it is built on the rancorous, the controversial, the sensational, the tragic, as if what interests people — what sells newspapers — is only that which stirs their fears or anger. Today is a day to remember that this is not so. All of these elements appear in newspapers, to be sure, and they rightly play a dominant role sometimes. But as I like to remind us every Thanksgiving, positive stories have a favored place at the daily banquet of news we provide. Here are a few from the past week.

Some stories are just plain good news:

• On Wednesday, we topped the front page with the stirring tale Ken Franzese of Barrington calls his “testament to the power of prayer.” Franzese and his friend Ron Carlson of Hawthorn Woods survived a harrowing crash of a vintage World War II-era plane by leaping off the wing with their parachutes as the crippled plane plummeted toward earth.

• The story of an honor at Mead Junior High School in Elk Grove Village wasn’t life or death — but it was uplifting. The school raised a banner Tuesday recognizing that it was one of only four Illinois schools to meet standards of inclusion, advocacy and respect to earn the title of Special Olympics Unified Champion School.

• Matt Erbach, who teaches precision manufacturing at Streamwood High School, was surprised with a $5,000 national Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

And some stories are about good deeds.

• Our Lauren Rohr told Monday about a neighbor’s quick and heroic actions that helped suppress a growing apartment fire in Hoffman Estates, limiting damage and helping ensure that no one was injured.

• In her “Neighbors in the News” column, our Norrinne Twohey told, among other positives, of 14-year-old Quest Academy student Gabriella Lui, whose design for a Presence Detection Safety System won a top prize in a national STEM competition for middle school students.

• Elk Grove Village refunded $600,000 from a pair of tax increment financing districts to local taxing bodies, part of $3.6 million in TIF funds the village has returned to other local governments in the past 10 years.

• Naturally, good deeds are a part of the holiday tradition and the paper has been — and will continue to be — filled with stories like those of Barrington’s Blue Heron Cafe and 100 volunteers providing meals for people in need, or the annual free Thanksgiving dinner taking place in Elgin today, or literally scores of other seasonal shows of kindness, but other good deeds occur year round.

• The giving spirit of Archangel “Arky” Mastrangelo got special front-page treatment — for good reason. Since 1973, the Vietnam veteran has invited recruits from Great Lakes Naval base to share Thanksgiving dinner with his Elgin family.

• Nearly 1,000 people offered a show of solidarity Sunday at an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration declaring, in the words of Rabbi Morris Zimbalist, “Yes. We are all brothers and sisters.”

There were many more. Indeed, moving stories like these appear in the Daily Herald nearly every day. Amid the din of politics, disasters, tragedies and hardships, let’s not forget that they are the ones we especially give thanks for today.

Jim Slusher is Deputy Managing Editor/Opinion for the Daily Herald. Email him at jslusher@dailyherald.com

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