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September 29, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if you looked out the window and saw a mob burning you in effigy? You'd probably work at a newspaper. Make the step up to owner and publisher and you might want to consider adding bars to the windows and an unlisted home phone number is a definite. Unfortunately we in the newspaper industry sometimes come under fire for things beyond our control.

However this week I came under fire for something that was totally my fault. I can't hide behind computer problems (I'll explain this later), inaccurate reports or faulty facts from a source. I can't blame the report and say I was misquoted (a famous athlete tried to use that argument before someone explained what a biography is.)

My problem is that I often try to utilize sarcasm in my editorials. However while it is fairly easy to speak "tongue in cheek" it can be rather difficult to write in this manner. In last week's editorial I made a few tongue in cheek comments regarding California. I meant no offense to anyone from the state, but apparently I have offended some readers. It reminds me of that famous editorial out of Iowa which ripped on Missourians. I'm fortunate that California is not a neighboring state (and the fact that I was not nearly as damning as my Iowegian counterpart who really laid into us hillbillies here in the Show-Me State). Despite that fact we do have subscribers in California and there are plenty of folks in Scotland County with relatives or other connections to the state who likely are upset with me and I don't blame them at all. Quite simply I was wrong and I'm sorry.

To be honest with you the rest of the piece was just as bad as the comments about the West Coast. I made light of a disease which really has a lot of folks scared. I pretended not to be concerned, but when my daughter got flu like symptoms this week, I was ready to take her to the doctor for a West Nile Virus exam. People have died from this and I was joking about preventive steps some have taken to avoid it. That was in poor taste - making last week's efforts the top of my list of shame.

That's the problem with a weekly deadline. Most people will tell you they don't do their best work under pressure. When you try to churn out new and interesting ideas on a weekly basis, ultimately there's going to be a dud now and again. I apologize for a bad editorial last week and I hope to do better in the future. I also would like to say sorry to California - I didn't mean what I wrote, so I shouldn't have written it.

Hopefully those of you not from California are not as mad at me because I have some more bad news. These past 10 days have been very difficult in this office due to some major computer problems. These wonderful machines, which often come from the greatest state in the nation -California, have made huge advances in the newspaper industry. I don't know what I would do without them. But last week I almost found out. We had major networking issues with all four computers in our shop. When the smoke cleared we are now down to three computers. Unfortunately the machine we lost was used as our archives. The hard drive housed all my digital photo folders, including most of my racing pictures, all my sports and school stuff from last year as well as the entire group of photos from the summer little league program. This means we will be unable to publish our annual t-ball/softball/baseball photo album in the newspaper this year. I'm beginning to believe the project is jinxed, as we have problems nearly every year capturing every team on film.

So if you Californians accept my apologies and are willing to bury the hatchet, please do so quickly as all the little league parents will be looking for weapons en route to the paper office.


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