Editor’s Column: It’s not all black and white

On occasion, the esteemed former editors of the HT seem to speak to me when I’m going through the archives, and their words of wisdom are always timely. This week it was a brief note from 100 years ago by Meeker Herald editor and proprietor James Lyttle.

“Many a good story is kept out of the paper because the editor cannot see where any good could result from publishing it, while to do so would injure the reputation of some innocent party. So, when you happen to know something about somebody and wonder why the paper didn’t print it, remember this—and don’t be too insistent or critical. Besides, maybe the editor knows something about you!”

I think Mr. Lyttle must have been having the same kind of week I’ve had.

A lot of information—some good, some bad, some newsworthy and some not—crosses an editor’s desk every week. About 60% is rumor, hearsay or generalized griping about perceived maltreatment. Like the woman who was spitting mad that the newspaper “put her property up for auction” without notifying her (it was a foreclosure notice), or the gentleman willing to fork over the price of a full page ad to say he hasn’t been paid for work performed (unfortunately, he was casting blame in the wrong direction, so I told him no), or the maelstrom of gritty gossip that blows through town like a dust devil every now and then.

Of the remaining 40%, about half comes to me with questionable motives, where someone wants to use the newspaper to bring someone else down, or thinks the newspaper is their personal outlet for grinding a particular political axe. Please don’t ask me to write editorials espousing your personal political cause. Even if I agree with you, I can’t be your voice. You need to put your name on it.

The other 20% of what comes to me are legitimate news tips and people with genuine concerns about the community. Those tips require research, follow-up, vetting and turning over some rocks, all of which takes time. And even those tips don’t always turn into a story, for all sorts of reasons.

All that said, what looks black or white on the surface is, in reality, multiple shades of gray, and all of those shades play a role in determining whether a story should be published.

***

Here we are, past another county fair and heading into a new school year. In this edition (our 135th) you’ll find our first fair keepsake edition. Congratulations to all the kids (the human kind) on your accomplishments. Even if you didn’t walk away with the ribbon or the buckle or the big money, you should be proud of yourselves.

***

My daughter recently accused me of being a helicopter parent—of Nellie the puppy.

I don’t think I was a helicopter parent with my kids, I was just cautious. Right? I just cared about their health and happiness and safety. Isn’t that what we all say?

“A helicopter parent is a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.” (dictionary.com)

OK. I admit it. By definition I was/am a helicopter parent.

Today, as the parent of adults, I can see the damage my overprotective behavior caused them and me, and when I see that behavior in other parents, I want to warn them how that turns out. Not that they’ll listen.

Are you a helicopter parent? If you think you’re not, you probably are, at least in my experience. Meanwhile, I’m trying to be slightly less overprotective about the puppy. It’s never too late to learn, right?

By NIKI TURNER | niki@ht1885.com

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