After deadline: You like me, you really really (sometimes) like me
With more than two decades as a journalist, I’ve received more than my fair share of furious phone calls and angry missives from readers.
Some were my fault, some weren’t and a few ... I still don’t know what the reader was talking about.
That’s why when I get mail — either of the “e” or “postal” variety — from happy, satisfied readers, it’s always a delight and a bit of a shock.
Recently, I received some mail in both forms from people complimenting me or just reacting positively to something I’d recently written.
Beauty abounds, but ...
Wise reader Cathy Johnson, of Peterson, actually wrote me a letter on paper with ink about my r ecent After Deadline column where I talked about my brother, Alan, and his photos from Colorado. While Cathy rightly pointed out Alan’s photos have the benefit of being taken in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, property here costs less, our roads are less dangerous and our hilltops are covered with trees while the timber ends at about 10,000 feet out there.
Good points, all, Cathy.
And, yes, drives through the Rushford, Peterson, Lanesboro area are quite beautiful.
Lake City resident John Hutchinson wanted to compliment me on story ran last week about downtown redevelopment in river towns. He wisely noted I “captured the essence” of the task small cities along the river face in redeveloping their downtowns.
Hutchinson, who is active in promoting his town, was thrilled I wrote about an issue so close to his heart.
Hey, even a broken clock is right twice per day.
Feeding My Ego
My favorite letter might be the one sent last March from genius reader Carl Zander. (Yes, I saved the letter.) He said he loved my tongue-in-cheek story about a dog named Nutter Butter, whose owner had broken him out of doggie jail.
Zander noted the story’s “humor, warmth” and called it a relief from the daily political talk on the front page. In his handwritten missive, he hoped there would be a followup article. Alas, the most we were able to find out after the initial story was the dog’s owner missed her court date, then she and Nutter Butter went on the lam.
My Favorite Complaint
Not everyone is a fan, but generally folks are nice and positive. I don’t know if that’s a Minnesota thing or a byproduct of the fact I cover school boards, city councils and county boards in the most even-handed way I can.
The reactions here are far different from what I dealt with as sports editor in football-crazy West Texas. If people didn’t like a story, they were certain I was a fan and graduate of their rival high school. Neither was true, but try telling that to a woman who measures column inches of stories to prove her point about which high school sports team I favored.
One of my favorite calls was from the dad of a high school baseball player asking we correct a story saying his son committed a fielding error in a game. He was afraid college coaches would read the story, and his son might not get a scholarship to Texas Tech (their big dream) or Abilene Christian University (where the kid ended up, on a partial scholarship).
“Sir,” I said. “Coach (Larry, of TTU) Hays does not consult me on his recruiting process. And your son’s own coach called it an error.”
Let Us Know
So, please, when you like a story we’ve written let us know. A comment at the bottom of a story on postbulletin.com is always nice, but emails and handwritten letters to the reporter really feed our egos. Which we need.
After all, the phone is about to ring, and I’m sure someone is upset about how I didn’t write a story on downtown redevelopment for cities that don’t have rivers. Yep, they’re totally going to expose my pro-river bias.