Editor’s Column: Random thoughts this week

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I should know better. Whenever I find myself falling into a cranky, judgmental, critical mindset about other people’s mistakes or bad attitudes I should know I am in imminent danger of making grave errors myself. Sometimes I catch myself in time, sometimes I don’t. The last two weeks were a “don’t.” Call it karma, call it retribution, call it paybacks, call it whatever you want… it’s a real thing. Some lessons, unfortunately, are harder than others to learn. May this serve as a warning for me, and for any of our readers subject to the same shortcoming.

I’m struggling with covering the “hard news” we encounter occasionally here in our county. Some folks want the down and dirty details. Back in the day (I hate that phrase) we named every DUI offender and went into detail on crimes and fires and arrests. Our neighboring papers cover that information in their counties. Do we need to do the same? And if we do, how should we go about it? I have no desire to traumatize grieving families or humiliate residents who have made a grievous error in judgment. So, as a local newspaper, how do we address the “hard news” in a way that doesn’t glorify or capitalize on it?

To our loyal subscribers who understand the value in paying for a print subscription, if your paper is not showing up on time, we’re sorry, but it’s beyond our control. The papers are taken to the post office in Meeker here every Thursday before 6 a.m., as always, hand-labeled and stuffed with this week’s inserts. After that they’re out of our hands. If your paper isn’t showing up in a timely fashion, please call your local post office and let them know something is awry with their delivery.

I learn so much from digging through the archive copies every week. Not just about history or our communities, but about the newspaper business and how it’s conducted. So much has changed in the world, but some things remain the same.
In 1888, just four years after the paper’s birth, founding editor and publisher James Lyttle wrote a scathing indictment of individuals who were stealing their neighbor’s subscriptions and (literally) riding away with them. We don’t see a lot of that now, since our subscriptions are mailed, but we do still experience newspaper theft.
My parents had to call on the services of the Aspen Police Department more than once to deal with serial newspaper thieves raiding racks and not paying for papers. In Aspen. Seriously. Like they couldn’t afford a newspaper.
In a painful flashback, we’ve had substantial thefts from the racks at Watt’s and the post office in Meeker during the last two weeks.
Newspaper racks—unlike almost anything else in our modern world—are on an honor system. You insert your quarters, you withdraw one paper, you close the rack. You don’t take five, or 10 or 20. At least not if you’re an honorable person. If you take more than one, that’s stealing… petty theft… the same as shoplifting or any other kind of thievery. Is that really the kind of person you are? I hope not. I’m hoping the thief is an ignorant out-of-towner with no scruples, not someone who lives here, because I believe better of our community than that.

Don’t forget, this weekend we get to “turn back time.” The switch to daylight standard time demands turning back the clock one hour on Saturday evening. It’s my biannual reminder that time is nothing more than an artificial social construct.

Good luck to the Cowboy football and volleyball teams, and the Rangely Panther volleyball teams!