What's in a name?
Published: Saturday, May 3rd, 2003
I received a plain manila envelope on Friday addressed to “Quay County Sun Paper,” no return address. “Oh, goody,” I giggled. “These can be interesting.” Sometimes a letter with no return address is just another press release from someone who forgot to say who it was from. Sometimes, though, it’s someone complaining about a city official, or a county commissioner, or even one of our local doctors. Of course, these letters are rarely signed. My philosophy is if the writer doesn’t take the issue seriously enough to sign his or her name, I don’t have to take the issue seriously at all. The letters can be pretty amusing, though. But this letter wasn’t a complaint about a governmental agency or a business. It was a complaint about the Quay County Sun itself. “Dear Publisher, Editor or who it may concern:” it began. (By the way, I am to whom it concerns. Or my boss, Ray Sullivan.) “Attached is a copy of” (I don’t know that the paper matters, do you?) “Please note the extensive local coverage of numerous subjects and individuals.” (Said town) “is a town slightly smaller in population with much the same type economy and social-economic base as Tucumcari. It would be nice to have our Quay County Sun provide this type of information, recognition, and support ...” And, as promised, a copy of the April 24th edition of said newspaper was included (with the subscription label torn off, of course). I’ll admit, I went with my first reaction to toss the whole package in the circular file and not give it another thought. But I did give it another thought. Maybe this unknown author had a point. So I dug the letter and the newspaper back out of the trash and looked at it again. “Extensive local coverage of numerous subjects and individuals,” was one of the phrases that jumped out at me. I relooked at the front page stories of the last three editions of the Sun. Rep. Tom Udall, a House teacher, a natural gas plant, a chuckwagon cook off, school board meeting, Route 66, a Romanian who’s traveling across Route 66, a gross receipts tax increase, a new success center and more fun with the county’s trash service. Sounds fairly extensive to me. I went through the rest of the other newspaper, looking to see what it supposedly did better than we did. There were lunch menus, obituaries, hometown heroes, articles from area churches, wedding announcements, marriage licenses, club notes, birth announcements and brief stories about area happenings, all of which we include in either the Wednesday or Saturday edition, sometimes both. There were also a few things we don’t have, such as new water connections, bowling scores, newcomers of the week and this week in history. As for the “recognition and support” comment, I’m not sure what that means — and I can’t call up the unknown author to ask. There’s no way we can know everything that everyone does, much less be able to write about it, so we have to rely on people telling us and giving us press releases. Maybe we should unquestioningly support our elected and governmental officials. Sorry, not much chance of that. The best way for a newspaper to support someone, especially a governmental official, is to be willing to write the bad stuff. That way, when we write the good stuff, the readers will believe it. Now then, I’ll be the first to admit that there are some things we could do better, but I’m proud of the work that shows up in the news racks twice a week. But then again, I’m hardly unbiased on the subject. So I put it to you, the readers. What features would you like to see the Sun include? Obviously, we can’t include everything, and we can’t make everyone happy. I’ve had a “concerned reader” complain about the columns penned by Aggie Moncus, for instance. Other readers (who actually signed their names, by the way) have written to say how much they enjoy the puppy’s columns. But sometimes it’s good to make sure we’re on the right track with what our readers want. Write me email at email@example.com or try your luck with the U.S. Postal Service at P.O. Drawer 1408, Tucumcari, NM 88401. Just please, please, sign your name.
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