It is a very sad day in the neighborhoods of Syracuse today, especially for the low-income, ethnically diverse neighborhoods of the Southside, Near-West side and similar neighborhoods on the north and east sides. Maureen Sieh is leaving the Post-Standard today.
Folks in Strathmore, Sedgwick Farms, Bradford Hills and other well-to-do areas will not see any appreciable difference in the coverage they receive in the paper. The golf tournaments, home tours and wine tastings will continue to receive the same coverage from the area’s newspaper of record.
Folks living on Geddes St., Midland Ave., Gifford St., South Ave. and countless other neighborhoods will now fade back into obscurity, visible only when they are labeled as violent punks committing crimes or welfare cheats scamming the system. Maureen was the reporter that saw through the stereotypes, that saw the warmth and humanity that exists side-by-side with difficult economic times and the difficulties brought about by racial segregation, poverty and a lack of education.
Maureen made it a mission to cover the ethnic groups that were heretofore invisible in our city–Hmong, Sudanese, Bosnian, Cuban–the waves of folks washed upon our shore by the dark forces of war, famine and genocide. She covered the struggles, but also the celebrations. Festivals, parties, graduations–and everything in between. Most pointedly, Maureen covered the citizenship ceremonies that have created so many new Americans and strengthened the fabric of our nation, the nation dedicated to the notion of “e pluribus unum” (“out of many, one.”)
But mostly Maureen was just always there. She hustled stories. Maureen would call or stop by the SUN office, always asking the same thing–“what’s going on?” And we were just one stop of many for her in the community–the churches, beauty salons, schools, diners and front porches were her beat.
This is what the downsizing of the newspaper business really means. The community is slowly and surely losing the reporters that understand the communities they cover. Losing Maureen Sieh hurts even more. We have lost a reporter who not only understood our community. but cared about the people who struggle daily to beat extremely tough odds. We have not only lost a reporter, we have lost a friend, a friend with a warm smile and a powerful voice.