It only counts when it's not anonymous
In last Tuesday's Sun Advocate stories covered the Lady Dinos winning the state basketball title. We also learned that the county commissioners were discussing the formation of a mental health coalition and that Price City was exploring relocating it's police department to the northeast corner of the city.
But one reader no longer sees a need in her life for information that these editions contain. In the last three publications, significant government stores were printed about the city, county, school district and community improvements. Nearly a page was devoted last week to the upcoming Community Book Club activities and last Thursday a very detailed story outlined the noxious weeds we can expect as spring approaches. All were part of a weekly summary that people living here, we believe, want to read about and be informed.
We get calls and letters to the editor almost weekly thanking us for the coverage of community activities and functions, issues and photographs.
In the midst of such reporting and these readers expressing their appreciation for our work, an anonymous call came to my voice mail. The unidentified woman, responding to her renewal notice, called to say she was canceling her subscription.
People get mad at newspapers for a variety of reasons. In a lifetime of publishing and working for community newspapers I have witnessed cancellations for reasons ranging from stories we've printed (like accidents or crime) to stories we haven't printed because they perceived we were covering up something at city hall. I have seen cancellations because of editorial stands we've taken in local elections and even letters to the editor that readers thought we should not have published because they disagreed with the writer.
"I just want to let you know that I am not going to resubscribe because I think you are too liberal" was the person's comment.
She wasn't specific if it was me, Richard Shaw, Lynnda Johnson or Les Bowan or if she was lumping the Sun Advocate and all newspapers into one big bag and forming a judgment about the news media in general.
"You guys must be out of touch for who you are writing the paper for," she continued.
It's hard to lose a whole lot of sleep from an anonymous message. We at the Sun Advocate get phone calls, voice mails and e-mails almost every day from people responding to something that has appeared in the newspaper. Whether complimentary or critical, hardly anyone does this anonymously.
Perhaps this caller would have revealed who she was had I been here to take the call. But perhaps not. There was no phone number left for a return call. Had that occurred, I might have had a dialogue about the difference between news and opinion. I might have also said that an editor's role in opinions and columns isn't necessarily to reflect prevailing opinions or political persuasions or be a mouthpiece for the majority.
It's unlikely I would have prevailed in keeping her as a subscriber, yet I would not be surprised if she still finds a way to read the Sun Advocate by purchasing issues over the counter or in some rack around town.
One can take exception to opinions expressed in the Sun Advocate and people often do that. Just read the letters to the editor.
And by the way these writers do not do it anonymously.