San Angelo Standard-Times: 1 year of Viewpoints
When asked to do a weekly opinion column for my old hometown newspaper in 1998, I wondered what I could say that would be of any interest to readers.
Editor Gene Deason and Publisher Robert Brincefield and the staff have been most supportive and helpful. They sure did not agree with everything I said, but that is the value of newspapers – differing views bring better discussion and clearer decisions.
Then last January, 2008, Editorial Editor Ty Meighan went out on a limb, so to speak, and now the Concho Valley is full of my opinions. I would guess I have enjoyed the challenge even more than my readers. There have been all kinds of responses to both my wisdom and my ignorance.
It did not take long to find out who my friends were. One reader liked my views so much he cut the column with my photo out and placed it face-up in his parrot's cage. Another offered to show me the state line and find some place else to abode. One reader, who grew up in the area, ask from Austin didn't I know were I was?
Others, were supportive of my efforts to enlighten West Texas society and politics. One reader, a few counties south of here, wrote me that his sister had called from Coleman insisting he not miss my columns. He agreed with his wise sister. Outside the state many former San Angelo and Brownwood residents have written encouragement. What a wonderful way to keep in touch with best little town in Central-West Texas.
One thing for sure (to date) I have not had any shoes or boots thrown at me. Those Iraqi shoes were not what President George W. Bush expected for Christmas. (But he should have – the majority of people in the Middle East do not appreciate what he has done to their lives. This is Mr. Bush's legacy: a lame-duck having to duck! As David Letterman ask last month: Can't Obama start now!)
The shoe-toss was very unfortunate. Mr. Bush should forgive the guy and get him out of jail lest he become another anti-America hero to those of that persuasion. My guess is future journalists will have to take off their shoes before a White House press conference.
Met a young man last week whose dad recently bought a weekly newspaper in Cleburne, near Fort Worth. I thought, wow, how brave can a man be?
Newspapers are folding all over the country. Newspaper corporate boards are laying off reporters right and left. The Chicago Tribune is headed into bankruptcy. Denver's Rocky Mountain News up for sale. In just the last six weeks hundreds and hundreds of writers, reporters, sales persons and technicians have been furloughed or let go across the nation.
Lay offs are getting far too common in all areas of work. Businesses and factories are closing their doors at a rate not seen in living memory. People are hurting in ways many of us cannot imagine. But to lose newspapers is to lose touch with the community heartbeat.
I believe people still like to hold a newspaper in their hands. Cut the size to a tabloid layout, even do away with color, but keep the spirit of the daily paper alive here in Brownwood. Anytime I travel I buy the local newspapers. I daily want to get in touch with a wider world. I want to read the opinions and editorials of professional, informed writers. (I consider myself a professional writer with 20 years of book sales, magazine and newspaper articles, some even translated into Swedish, German and Chinese. I don't consider myself a good writer yet, but I'm working on it.)
With the new year I have a number of ideas that readers have suggested I write about. There are a lot of hobby-horses I would like to ride. (Term means writing on something over and over like riding round and round the carnival hobby horse – preachers do that a lot.) Your suggestions, input and constructive criticisms are welcome. Long-time friend and San Antonio pastor Buckner Fanning liked to say there is no such thing as constructive criticism. All criticism hurts. But in small doses constructive criticism can make us a little better.
Time to look forward to an even better year: 2009.