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Sept. 30, 2011 12:01 a.m.

MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass., has a strong news package on the man accused of plotting attacks that involved flying model planes into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol building.

WHAT THEY DID: MetroWest packages several related stories, plus PDFs of the indictment and federal complaint against Rezwan Ferdaus. Included in the content was this great lead written by Norman Miller:

"Next to his 2003 Ashland High School yearbook photo, Rezwan Ferdaus quoted Mahatma Gandhi: 'I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need.'

"That message was nowhere to be found in the documents the FBI released yesterday, in which federal authorities accuse the 26-year-old Ashland resident of plotting attacks on the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol building to kill and "terrorize the enemies of Allah," including women and children."

And a column by Julie Spitz put the arrest in perspective from the viewpoint of the town where he was arrested:

"Stuff like this just doesn't happen in Ashland, where people thought the superintendent of schools' ouster Monday night was the most shocking thing that could happen.

"Or they did, right up until the helicopters started showing up.

"Usually, my small town is like any other around here.

"We have our small-town political scandals now and then.

"We have our small-town squabbles over spending money on building projects that seem grander than they need to be.

"We come together to support one another in tough times and cheer one another on at fundraisers and youth sports games.

"Things like this make you wonder if you ever really know your neighbors, or anyone else for that matter."

TAKEAWAY: When a story makes national news, our community papers have a challenge as other media converge on a story. But no one has the potential to tell it as well as you do. You can make it personal, the way Spitz's column did, and the way Miller's yearbook quote lead did. And when you have great coverage, make sure you package it online so everyone looking for that story will find yours.


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