So, one of our weekly newspapers was called out this week for last week’s edition. We received an e-mail that took us to task — brutally, I might add. And, while I sorta’ agreed with the e-mail writer the news writer in question should have been a wee bit more careful, I did not think the following was warranted.
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“Seriously? I stopped subscribing to The Clarkston News awhile ago, and picked one up to see the construction plans for Sashabaw and Clarkston roads.
“So you nearly destroy a guy’s life, and write ‘we regret the error.’
“I don’t even know this guy or the politics of the city, and there isn’t even an apology? I suppose this is a sign of the Millennial times. How sloppy. Was that composed on a Friday afternoon at the Union?
“Good Lord. Destroy someone’s life and don’t even publicly apologize.
“Just take all of the religious crap out of your publication, because it amounts to a pile of excrement.”
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Thought I had after reading said e-mail for the first time: “Wow. Feel the power of the press and kneel before me peasants.” I then wrote the e-mailer and the aggrieved.
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The e-mail referred to a quote being attributed to the wrong person, the previous week. We wrote an apology, printed it where we do when we make mistakes. The day after the mistake, I personally communicated with both the person who was wrongly attributed and the person who should have been attributed. I told both the correction would be in the next edition and suggested the wronged to write a Letter To the Editor (which he did and we published).
Point being, do newspapers — do we — make mistakes? You betcha! Do I like ‘em? Nope. I hate ‘em. I am embarrassed by mistakes, there are really no excuses for sloppiness. That said, when we do make a mistake we make corrections and apologize in print for the entire world to see. As public as it gets, in my book.
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Ah, Mark Twain’s classic American work of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A classic, indeed and yet it has long been a source of controversy since it was published in the mid 1880s because of “course” language including the use of the dreaded “N” word. A few years back, the publishing house which owned the rights took out the “N” word and replaced it with the word “slave.”
I really don’t have a problem with that, what I have is a problem of changing things in print to make something fit into a later time’s “sensibilities.” My logic follows.
One of the reasons I dig the newsPAPER industry is once it is in print, it doesn’t change. So, the changing of Huck Finn touches me in ways that I don’t like. In the newspaper biz, if we do something wrong, in later editions we can and do make corrections — but we just don’t go willy-nilly making changes because somebody wants us to.
There is an effort afoot by local governments and state governments to do away with placing public notices in print newspapers. Government types use the old economic play as an excuse to take away public notices. Public notices are “far” too expensive, government bean-counters love to say. Let’s put them on the internet, it will save us money, they add.
I am so opposed to this idea I can barely communicate coherently about it. So, let me put it this way. When asked about public notices, I usually tell two personal stories.
Once upon a time I got an e-mail from a local woman who said, “her friend was searching the internet and discovered” the local’s name on our website. The local wanted her name stricken from our site. When I investigated, I found the local had requested some sort of ordinance variance. It was a public notice we published first in print, and then posted on-line (at no additional cost to the local government).
In other words, it was a public document.
Story two: Some time ago a lad was caught, tried and punished for breaking the law. Your community newspaper, ran the story and posted it on-line, too. Years passed, as they always do. Then one day we received an e-mail that went something like this, “Dear Sirs, please remove the story about me from your website. I have grown up, matured and I am trying to move on with my life. This story does not help.”
In both cases I declined the individuals’ requests. The point is, however, I could have easily changed and nobody would have been the wiser. I could have altered history in about three seconds. When I hear government types push to put notices online, I always think about how easy it is to change and I cringe.
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But, sometimes we make mistakes.
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Why support a community newspaper? What difference would it make to you and your lives? Maybe we should just get rid of all newspapers, anyway. Save the landfills!
What would your community be like without its own newspaper helping raise awareness and connecting all residents together and not just to clique-happy social media?
Let me know. I’d like to see what the community thinks.