The community he loved

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

In a lot of ways, Mike Voss embodied exactly what a newspaper like The Washington Daily News wants to be for its community.

Of course, there’s the work that Mike put in the series exposing contamination of Washington’s city water supply. His work to help shed light on an issue public officials wanted to keep from the public helped bring a Pulitzer Prize to the Daily News.

But it’s so much more than that.

Journalism in a community like Beaufort County works best when the writers are, well, a part of the community. Mike was a member of this community. He knew people who worked with the schools, worked on various councils and boards and even knew many of their kids. It’s those kinds of roots in a community that help writers such as Mike find the stories that need to be told.

One of my favorite little traditions from my time at the paper was going with Mike and a few others to have breakfast at No Wake Zone, whenever we had work to do on a Saturday. If Mike didn’t spot someone he knew during the short walk down Market Street, it was practically guaranteed there would be someone else dining who he would catch up with.

I’m convinced no one knew the food scene in Beaufort County quite like Mike. As a matter of fact, I remember him recommending a place or two to me when I moved to Raleigh.

What I’ll always remember about Mike is the example he set for me. A lot of young journalists come through the Daily News. My stay may not have been long, but two and a half years of working with Mike taught me so much. There was no assignment he wasn’t willing to do. He’d pitch in with an extra story if there was space to fill and would help speed along the editing process if we were nearing deadline.

MIke told stories that needed to be told. A lot of them were nice, uplifting pieces about Beaufort County. Some of them weren’t as nice. But everything he wrote for the Daily News was written to make the community he loved a little bit better for everyone.

Michael Prunka was the sports editor for The Washington Daily News from October 2015 to April 2018. He currently lives in Raleigh and works at WNCN.