Bumping and grinding my way through another opinion column

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

In response to some of my recent Facebook posts, and well, yes, some of my columns, people have told me I tend to be negative in what I have to say.

I guess it’s hard to argue that point when one looks at the headlines in the news internationally, nationally and even locally. Most of what comes across my computer screen and desk is indeed depressing, therefore the negativity.

Do I look at myself as inherently negative? Possibly at times — as we all do in life given the gut punches it throws our way. But I tend to look at much of what I write as informative to a lot of folks simply because it takes the opposite point of view from the prevailing attitude.

While many people comment I’m against our president and his agenda, they tend to perceive that I do so because he’s a Democrat — or even worse, because he’s black. They simply couldn’t be more wrong. I’m against Barack Obama’s policies and agenda because my research and understanding from history is they simply don’t work, are unconstitutional and reduce the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned for all men.

What those same people seem to forget is that I was against President George W. Bush when he bailed out the auto companies, the big banks and AIG and pushed for massive government stimulus spending, and for the exact same reasons.

I’ve taken a lot of grief for my stance on local issues as well, opposing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the Avalon Theater project and changing the name of North Avenue to University Boulevard, to name two. The fact is, most of the local editorials I read favored taxpayer funding of the Avalon project. And few people oppose renaming a street when it has no effect on their addresses.

The difference between me and most people is that I have a public forum in which to state my opinions when it comes to those topics. Yet, when I hear from folks who take umbrage with my opinions, they don’t want to take advantage of that same forum to state their comments. My first response to people who take the time to write me is to thank them for reading and writing me back. My second response is to ask permission to publish what they wrote as a letter to the editor. I never seem to hear back. Then again, I hear the same thing when people write to agree with me.

I’ve spent the last 13 years of my life bringing to this community literally thousands of pages of accurate (which can be misconstrued as not positive to some) local, original business news. Out of all of those pages, I take a half page to state my opinion on local, state, national and world events. About half of those columns are negative, in my humble opinion, while nearly all of the columns tend to be sarcastic, acerbic and littered with irony. If you’ve met me (or I guess read me) you know my style. That’s not going to change. As someone once told me, “Why have an opinion page if you’re simply going to agree with popular opinion?”

I took that man’s words to heart. Some may argue to excess. But I do so with my eyes wide open and at times, great risk. Let’s face it: When I write an opinion, I risk upsetting many of the leaders in our community. I also risk upsetting advertisers. And, yes, I’ve lost more than a few because of what I’ve had to say.

But I’m not going to change the way I say things and will continue to put my name on my opinion. I have no desire to hide behind an editorial or to take the popular stand and drop it on the front page in lieu of real news to make advertisers happy. We’ll continue to take the same stand with news at the Business Times. If what we need to report is accurate, but negative, that’s what will happen on the other pages of the paper, because that’s what the news dictates.

I’m thankful that almost every leader I talk to in town shares the same way of thinking when it comes to the news, and especially, my opinion: While they might shake their heads and laugh at what I write whether they agree or disagree with me, they also support my First Amendment right to state my opinion and they support this publication with their advertising dollars. As a matter of fact, I’ve had more than a few leaders and advertisers who vehemently oppose what I write, yet advertise with the paper as well.

And it’s for one reason: What’s written in the news and on the opinion pages of the Business Times is read by the consumers and business leaders they most desire to reach. To paraphrase my friend and his thoughts on my opinion page, why bother having a local business newspaper if I can’t supply quality, local content that’s of interest to my readers while stirring the pot on issues with what I write on the opinion page? Why else would anyone read the Business Times?

Otherwise you get Miley Cyrus.