McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Time for a little Newspapers 101
There’s something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest. Actually, several things, and they all relate to readers of this and other newspapers.
I’ve avoided writing about it until now, since I know not many people will likely take what I have to say to heart. And I don’t mean any of this to speak ill of any of our readers. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and in America, they have the right to speak or write it. But there are some things that need to be explained. So here goes.
First, there is a difference between a story (it’s also fine to call it an article) and a column, or op-ed, a term I despise.
A story or article that appears in this publication is what you find on the front and most other pages. It could be a recounting of a City Council meeting, something about a sporting event or athlete or a feature on your neighbor down the street.
Ideally, you won’t read any overt opinions in a story or article, just the facts to the best of our abilities. But we are human, so mistakes are sometimes made. They are not intentional and there isn’t any conscious political philosophy or beliefs behind them. I was taught, and try to strictly follow, the practice of presenting as factual a story as possible, ideally from as many sides as possible (which has become more difficult in these days of one-, two-, or three-person news staffs).
A column is what you’re reading now. In this particular case, it’s my thoughts and words, hopefully not inciting anyone to violence, but maybe helping someone think a little. And you and your neighbors and friends are always welcome to write your own columns. I’ll publish them.
These columns should not present incorrect facts – again ideally, to the best of our ability. But they are opinion, so I’ve decided to hopefully clear up some confusion – innocently arrived at by most – by heading this page “Opinion” instead of “Commentary.” To me, they mean the same thing, but I’m sure you’d find a difference when you look them up in a dictionary.
That change will hopefully also help clear up another issue: Letters to the editor. This is where you and anyone else in this community is welcome to submit up to 300 words of your own thoughts and opinions, again hopefully based on fact. If I have questions about what’s in a letter, I will get in touch with the author to clarify, if I can’t verify something online.
In the past, I’ve received a few nasty emails when someone’s letter was not printed soon after submitting it. Keep reading for an explanation.
I’ve also added a sentence that always appears at the bottom of this page about how to submit letters to clarify that publication of letters from politicians or candidates for elected office does not mean this newspaper endorses their views or candidacy. It’s an opinion page and if this newspaper does any endorsements, they will be clearly labeled as such and have my name on it.
The Citizen Telegram also appreciates receiving regular monthly column contributions from area residents. This week, Dr. Laurie Marbas has another health column, Danette Dickey and Mary Huffine (or one or the other or a guest columnist) write about real estate in this neck of the woods and Dr. Rebecca Lemmon recently began writing a monthly veterinarian column. Mike Davis in the Rifle office of Northwestern Mutual pens a personal finance column. The same rules apply to these authors.
Another frequent comment or email I get is “why hasn’t my news item been in the paper?” My answer to this and the letters to the editor emails I mentioned earlier is always this: It depends on how much space I have to fill and what other stories I have that week. My news judgment, in other words. That’s my job. But I am very sensitive to informing readers of local events, so strive to include as many items as I can on a timely basis. So if your event is a month away, chances are it won’t run until a week or two before, maybe even the day it happens.
I will add that a follow up email or call after you send me something might be a good idea. Just this week, our junk email software and filter caught an email it should have allowed to reach me, so I never saw it. But that same software and filter sure does allow legitimate spam to reach me. Such is life in this technological age, I guess.
There, I think that covers it. Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone, I just wanted to answer a few questions and explain a few things.
Thank you for reading this and The Citizen Telegram. You are very much appreciated.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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Rifle and New Castle are seeing decent increases in tax revenue, according to financial administrators.