I received a letter from a reader this week who said my weekly columns should “inform/educate, uplift, inspire and engage the readers.” Specifically, when I write “frivolous” columns about personalized license plates, I am missing an opportunity to reach the paper’s readership about more serious topics.
The letter was merely a critique and it was done so professionally and without use of negativity, though I couldn’t help but feel the comments were made in a backhanded fashion and they stung a little.
It also made me think: Should I be writing about more serious fare here? Do people want me to tell them what they should think? About what my personal thoughts and opinions are on political and social issues?
I have written on such subjects before and still do occasionally, but it has been my experience that writing about these issues only tends to draw harsh, sometimes downright hateful reactions from some readers who may not agree.
The role of a community newspaper may be all these things the author of the letter suggests, but the fact of the matter is a majority of people don’t want to read what my thoughts are on politics, war, hunger, homelessness, corruption in politics and so on.
In fact, I have no desire any more to write about these subjects. Every day I write news stories for the View Newspapers dealing with these very subjects and at times it can be very dark and depressing.
When you have spent 25 years writing about children dying from terminal illness, people dying in car accidents, drowning in boating accidents and of drug overdoses, you may also find when you have one opportunity a week to write about something fun, or humorous, something that others can read and get a chuckle out of it, you’re not going to use it to make some political statement or to support a cause you believe in.
Sometimes we all just need to laugh. Sometimes we need some humor to brighten our day. Sometimes I don’t want to receive hate mail and phone calls from people who take offense to my column because I decided to speak up about an opinion I have.
That’s why I choose often to write about the frivolous things in life. I deal with “serious” issues every day of the week just about, I have found this is a great outlet to share the fun and humor. I am not a teacher, I’m not here to “educate” people about anything. If people want to be educated they’ll go to school, they’ll read a book, or they’ll go let political pundits on CNN or Fox tell them what to think. That’s not me.
I write the news and I have this space here, where I choose 99 percent of the time to give readers something they can laugh about. Community newspapers are here to inform, not to impart high-brow beliefs on a readership who wants to know what’s going on in their neighborhoods, to see their kids’ names in print or to find out what there is to do with the family on an upcoming weekend. firstname.lastname@example.org