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Columns do need to be interesting

By Staff | Aug 25, 2013

I don’t usually respond to letters to the editor in the same issue that they appear.

And, there is a reason for that.

Although some editors sometimes attach an editor’s reply right to the bottom of the letter, I have always tried to refrain from doing that. I have always felt that it could possibly prevent someone from writing a letter if they felt the editor was going to “blast away” at them.

And, the whole idea of allowing readers to write letters to the editor is for them to express their opinions even if the opinion is a negative one about the newspaper or the editor himself.

But, like all rules, there are exceptions.

A letter in this week’s Register is in response to an Editor’s Notebook column that I wrote, so I feel the need for some type of explanation.

First, let me reiterate that everyone is entitled to their opinion including me.

I try to keep my opinion limited to this column, and not have it appear in the news stories of the Register.

So, it was a deliberate decision to not do a news story about the rather infamous person attending the Elmore All-School reunion, but instead write about it as an Editor’s Notebook column.

Why write about it at all?

As the letter writer herself states, it was a very “poignant” happening.

Any reporter or editor worth their salt is not going to be able to let such a poignant event pass by without wanting to write about it. It is in our blood. It is what we do.

A former vice president of the United States and a convicted murderer in the same room, at the same school reunion? Now, how often does that happen?

It needed to be noted. And what better place to note it than in the Editor’s Notebook?

Much of what the letter writer writes I agree with. It did happen a long time ago. The man did serve his time. Many people have forgiven him for it and have let him get on with his life.

That is the way the system works.

But, the fact that it happened, even though it was a long time ago, still makes it relevant. And poignant.

You can’t erase the past, no matter how much you might want to and no matter how painful those memories might be.

But on another note, I want to make a couple of things clear.

I never meant to demean in any way the big event put on that weekend in Elmore by a very dedicated group of people. Hopefully that was made clear in the Editor’s Notebook column.

As stated, to put on a celebration of that magnitude in a small town is a massive undertaking.

Looking back in past issues of the Register I noted that the first story we did about a committee forming to put on Elmore’s Sesquicentennial was three years ago.

The planning resulted in a great weekend of fun.

All of it was very well done and everyone involved deserves a great big congratulations and kudos for a job well done.

This letter was the second one in as many weeks that commented on one of my Editor’s Notebook columns.

The week before a letter mentioned a column I had written concerning a couple of near death or shared death experiences.

The letter writer wanted to clarify a point, which I think was that the time of the shared death experience was at 2 a.m., not at 2 p.m. as was stated in the column.

I think it was one of those cases of someone saying it happened at 2:00 and my incorrect assumption was it was at two in the afternoon, not two in the morning.

Dr. Kevin Kimm also made mention of that column in his talk before the Blue Earth Kiwanis Club and I was happy to hear that he was happy that I had shared his story with our readers. Both the story of his miracle recovery in the Medical Guide, but also the story of his near death experience in my column.

The main focus of the column is always to be interesting. A boring column doesn’t get read and certainly would never get a response from readers in letters to the editor.

I’ll try to make next week’s a lot more interesting than this one, I promise.

If I don’t, write me a letter and tell me about it.