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  • Fit & Fun Challenge gets publisher, celebs pushing safety of Mo. lake

  • The Lake Media group is getting behind an effort to educate the public on the safety of the Lake of the Ozarks

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  • In Missouri at the Lake of the Ozarks, residents and politicians became intensely concerned last May when E. coli was discovered in their lake.
    It was later discovered that the readings of E. coli were a combination of a lack of understanding of the issue and that E. coli always spikes after heavy rains, which is when the testing was done. Health officials, after the readings came out, said the lake was perfectly safe to swim in. They've repeated that message over and over.
    However, it's been a year of panic for residents who are concerned that the water will melt their skin if they get in it.
    Lake Media publications (a GateHouse Media group) surrounds Lake of the Ozarks. In an effort to show residents that there really is nothing to fear, a group of local celebs, including the newspaper's publisher, John Tucker, decided to make a point.
    They launched a project called Fit and Fun Challenge and for 20 days they said they would swim for up to an hour in that "dangerous" lake.
    Read this column from Tucker where he announces his participation.
    In addition to Tucker, the group includes:
    • Tri-athlete Trevor Dowdney
    • Expert canoeists/kayakers Kevin and Jade Sellers, with Buster
    • Former pro-football player Jason Whittle
    The program is in its 14th day today and all are still swimming, including the GateHouse publisher, who actually runs marathons in his free time.
    The Lake Media group, headed by its daily newspaper Lake Sun, really got behind the effort. Here's a look at some of what they have done:
    Launched a microsite through GateHouse's new My Source solution
    • The publisher is writing a blog diary of sorts on his experience
    • They're offering daily video interviews with the participants
    Google maps of the locations are featured online
    On the final legs of the project this coming Monday and Tuesday they are holding a few walks, jogs and bike outings for those who want to participate in something on land.
    The newspaper has continued to write editorials throughout the project, pushing the fact that the lake is safe.
    A newspaper, whose publisher is actually taking steps to send a message through participating in a program like this, along with the power of quality online work and editorial voice, makes for strong public service journalism.
    Page 2 of 2 - Contact Lake Media Publisher John Tucker at john.tucker@lakesunonline.com

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