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Front Page » November 19, 2002 » Opinion » is whining the new national pastime?
Published 4,292 days ago

is whining the new national pastime?


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

Whining, in my estimation, has become a national pastime in the last few years. It has replaced baseball (which was already threatened by football), mother and apple pie.

Maybe even Chevrolet too.

None of us are immune. I hear almost everyone whine about something (and of course I myself have been immune to this new disease spreading over the land).

Just ask me and I will tell you.

Whining really used to be reserved for children and bad employees. But nowadays it has lost it's punch because of it's preponderance. Everyone seems to have a whine or two in them. Examples abound.

I think it began about a quarter of a century ago on that vulnerable television show Saturday Night Live. The show featured a family called "The Whiner Family" on selected weekends. In some ways that family was much like the Cone Heads except that instead of having pointed little heads as their logo they have a long drawn out cry at the end of almost every sentence. I remember people used to come to work where I was at the time on Monday mornings and they would tease each other using those voices. Like anything we do, if we do it enough, it seems to become part of our speech and then our behavior.

While I cannot ascertain that is where all the whining I am hearing today emanated from, I have to at least guess it didn't discourage it.

We as Americans really have very little to whine about compared to most people in the world. Most of those who live on this planet can't find enough to eat and most live in substandard housing.

Sorry, contrary to some people's local belief substandard housing is not anything outside of Westwood and the "coves."

This past month or two I have heard increasing amounts of whining, you know with the election and all.

I guess we in the newspaper business might hear more of it than others do. People are always whining at us, about us, for us, and sometimes even with us.

The two biggest groups of whiners we see are those that want their names (or their kid's names) in the paper and those that don't want their names (or their kids names) in the paper.

For instance, sometimes we get photos that people want us to publish with 53 people standing and smiling for the camera. All the names are usually listed below. That list is usually compiled by someone from the group. First of all we don't publish photos of smiling groups of people 53 strong standing and looking at the camera. We limit it to less than 49 and a half. Secondly, and inevitably, whomever lists the names almost always spells at least one of the monikers wrong. That particular item brings us a lot of trouble. We get blamed, or whined at for that too. Regardless, I know we don't always do things right in anybody's opinion, and often we don't do things right in many peoples opinion, but we do try to get names right and work hard to get interesting photos in the paper with people faces in them.

As for those who don't want their names (or their kid's names) in the paper, well those are usually the sections of the paper that are generally public record. People have a right to see the public record and in fact we feel it is our charge to bring that record to the community.

There is one more thing I feel I must mention that people whine to us about. It seems everyone has a news story, and we love hearing about them, but when they don't prove out to be what people think they are or there is no basis for them, we will not run them. That is when we hear whining the loudest.

Just a couple of weeks ago we got a number of calls about a supposed situation involving school district transportation. We checked it out immediately and found no validity to the claim or story. However people continued to call us and one even accused us of covering up the story. The truth is that we could find stories, but no facts to back it up. Yet because people heard others talking about it at the checkout counter in a local store, they believed it was true. Rumor has a way of turning into whining, particularly when someone really believes what they hear and then it can't be verified.

Just imagine if we were given a story that could not only be potentially damaging to an individuals reputation, but was also totally untrue and we ran it without checking the facts. We would not only be irresponsible, but also liable.

It used to be in the old days that community newspapers were some of the worst purveyors of mixing opinion, conjecture and news to come up with a story. Today the roles of newspapers have changed. A National Enquirer mentality has gripped the nation and even many respected newspapers are using sensationalistic journalism to sell their publications. Sometimes at our paper we make mistakes and certain characteristics of a news story may be inaccurate, but that is due to error, not on purpose. Just to include sensationalism for the purpose of making headlines is not in our makeup. And just to print a story because it would make good headlines is not responsible.

Okay. I'll stop my whining now.


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