Publisher’s column: We have common experiences; some are tough to share | PostIndependent.com

Publisher’s column: We have common experiences; some are tough to share

Michael Bennett

When your work is public, you tend to receive both positive and negative criticism. It is human nature to dwell on the negative feedback.

I shared a note I received last week with my friend Debbie Wilde at our Friday Rotary meeting. She told me that it typically takes 10 positive bits of feedback to overcome one negative. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?

That short, neatly handwritten note that I received stated:

MICHAEL BENNETT

READERS DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR LIFE PATH

HOPE THIS WILL DAWN ON YOU

Too bad the individual mailed this to me anonymously, as I would have preferred to respond to you personally. For the purposes of this column, I will call this individual “Pat.”

Pat, if you would have signed the letter we would have published your comments. I’m sure some other readers would agree with you — and others who would not have shared your view. Our goal at the PI is to stimulate good community dialog on a variety of important subjects.

My personal columns are not written so much to tell my story. My life is probably as normal as yours and that of most of our readers. Whether I write about sobriety, the death of my wife, aging or work, my goal is to articulate life challenges and how I face them. Some of us feel all alone sometimes, and our challenges are unique. I have learned that many readers have similar life experiences but feel uncomfortable discussing them. I have been told that my “life path” columns have helped.

Last year I wrote about my sobriety. Based on the considerable appreciative feedback I received, it first dawned on me that writing openly about my life path, in some small way, has helped others who have had similar experiences. If my column helps anyone even in a small way, to me, it is worthwhile to write.

By the way Pat, you may be impressed that July 29 will mark a full year without consuming an alcoholic beverage. Many of us out there have challenges with alcohol and quitting is no small feat. As my fellow alcoholics realize, it isn’t easy. And not quitting can be even harder for friends and family.

People used the word “brave” to describe that sobriety column. To be honest, I didn’t understand why. Those who read my column or who know me know that I am about as transparent as they come.

Writing a regular column does not come easily for me. The greatest challenge I have is coming up with a topic that I believe is worthy of the limited space we have available. Heck, until I discovered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy about five years ago, I truly didn’t believe people cared much about what it was I had to say. And despite my degree in journalism I rarely wrote publicly.

I really need to thank you, Pat, for testing that therapy. You were able to bring that twinge of self-doubt back to light. But what I have learned is that not everyone is going to like the topics of my column. And that is OK, that is your right.

I do thank you for you note, Pat. It was humbling. You will be pleased to know that I now have it on my bulletin board to help keep me grounded.

As a face of the PI, I tend to write about our community, the newspaper and my “life path.” To date, the majority of the feedback has come from the stories I relate to my life and that feedback has been mostly positive. I can assure you that if it becomes clear that the community and my editor Randy Essex believe that my “life path” writings are of no value, I will move on.

Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.


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