You know, I’ve always felt lucky this profession chose me nearly 20 years ago. Those who know me well, know there’s a whole lot that goes into my background story before I moved to Grand Junction. Like everyone else, there’s been successes, tragedy, love, divorce, good jobs, bad jobs, fired from jobs, adolescent silliness and trouble, sibling rivalries — the rights of passage we all go through. There also was a whole lot of retail experience, much of it on the high end of things. What there wasn’t before moving here was journalism (outside of the fact I love to read the paper) and racism.
Perhaps that last word in the paragraph above caught your attention. Because it sure caught mine. Maybe that’s because I got called a “white supremist” in a comment on the Business Times Facebook page sometime last week. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the proper term is “supremacist.” But I’m guessing that would put me into some other level of unknown bigotry for correcting someone of color’s rant on my Facebook page, and “white supremist” is enough for one day. But back to the gist of the first sentence of this column.
Here’s why I’ve always felt lucky about being the owner of the Business Times. There’s not lot of editing (yes, there’s editing in the broader sense of grammar and headlines and sentence structure, much of it with the columns I submit) or discernment or rejection or concern about the stories we get the privilege to publish. That’s not to say we don’t pick and choose which stories get what attention or placement. Well, I don’t. Phil does. It’s that the stories we get are all pretty much pre-qualified to be in the paper. They’re local business stories people bring to us or we hear about from readers. We’ve covered more than 20,000 of them since I took over the paper.
Here’s what they aren’t. Stories about crime, terrorism, the idiocy in Washington (my columns don’t count) or the woman from Florida who flew to Denver who was obsessed with Columbine. That’s not our job. We already have a local daily paper that does a great job sorting out the myriad news that comes across its wire. My comment here isn’t that those stories aren’t important. They’re very important to readers of newspapers across the country. I’m just thankful we don’t have to sort through them.
It’s my sincere hope for our interested commenter’s sake that when those stories come across the editor’s desk at ANY news organization, there’s one thing that’s never taken into account when deciding what, when or how to cover them: diversity. Either the story is newsworthy and of interest to the consumer of the media or it isn’t. Either the story is important or it isn’t. And if the story is worthy of being told, it should be told in an unbiased manner with the truth and the facts presented for the reader or viewer or listener to decide. The last thing the story should be about is some random, diversity benchmark individually set by every reader or consumer who might or might not be having a bad day at the time.
I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want my news. Tell me what’s up or what happened, and I’ll take my life’s viewpoint and experience and apply my perspective. Gosh, that seems to be such a nice way to live instead of calling someone or something who doesn’t see the world through your lens a bigot, chauvinist, sexist, racist, xenophobe or, yes, white supremist.
You can’t go to the Business Times Facebook page and see the comment.
I took it down. There are some things I just won’t allow to be said toward anyone in our forums, including me. And I’ve even let our local, ranting atheist have space on my pages. I do that mainly because that person takes a minute to call my paper a “right-wing based rag that hates democrat business owners” every time there’s a chance, and frankly I don’t have the time. That, and it makes me laugh because there’s nothing right wing about this paper (outside of one, ahem, columnist). The things our favorite atheist rages about are undisputable, historical facts. Talk about a skewed view.
So where does this leave me with our visitor to the Grand Valley, who happened to pick up my paper and call me a white supremist? It’s business as usual. For the reader, perhaps I can offer some advice. Let’s begin with some basics in terms of what the stories in the last edition had in common. They were all great stories about people doing great things in our Grand Junction business community. None of them were run through our super secret, Hitlerscope to be approved for publishing. We didn’t worry about how many stories about an ethnic group to publish based on a quota or a diversity group that never sent us a news release or how they voted in the last election.
Hell, it never even occurred to us to ask.