i’m proud of that old man

My father recently was published in our local paper regarding a conflict on the east side with one of our local industries. In addition to sending that letter, he sent a personal one to the paper’s editor, Mr. John Hughes. Here is his letter in its entirety:

Dear John,

I have been meaning to write a letter to you personally for a long time. This is not really a letter for publication in your paper, but you are free to do so if you choose.

I have been troubled by a couple of trends that I have noticed in your paper. First, I feel that your paper is losing its focus on just what is news and what is not. I fear you are becoming a “tattler “type magazine, what with your articles about celebrities in rehab or some such. The check stands at the market are full of articles about the deeds (or misdeeds) of the rich and famous. Personally I do not think that finding out some social lions are, after all, just like everyone else with faults or feet of clay is really newsworthy. I think these kind of stories just contribute to feelings of everyone is bad and things are going all to hell in general. Does the story of Paris Hilton getting a DUI really help your readers to discern what things they need to be concerned about? I doubt it very much. I think you should leave these kinds of stories for others to bandy about.

The second and more important issue to me at least concerns your paper’s stance on issues that are more relevant to those whom your paper reaches. I find it shocking that your paper takes no stance toward the situation in Iraq. Personally I feel it is one of the most immoral things ever but I am willing to hear other viewpoints. I have never seen your paper or you come out specifically with a view on the war. Why is that, John? Do you think the newspaper should not express a personal opinion about it? Pity. I think the newspaper has a social responsibility to the public to present articles which are germane to the community well being. I also think our situation in Iraq is very important to the well being of our community. An even more disturbing aspect of your silence about social issues and responsibilities lies in the field of politics, both national and local. I have yet to see any meaningful discussions on your part concerning the upcoming national election. Your paper seems to sit on the sidelines and wait for some candidate to make a gaffe, which then you report with chortles of glee as if you have reached the heart of the issue, be it health care or defense or whatever. This does the community no service. Pointing out the faults and missteps of the candidates does not make an informed electorate. This is even more disturbing when you do this on a local level. I am a strong believer in the theory of “think globally-act locally”. In this latest election you really dropped the ball. Rather than present an in-depth series on the issues of the candidates, you took a more superficial approach. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Hoquiam Mayor’s race. Right off, let me say that I voted for Jen Anderson but I do not have any deep seated hatred toward Jack Durney. Like many people in Hoquiam, I have a different view of what our priorities should be as far as directions the city should pursue. There is a classism at work here and your paper fails to see it. Why is it the paper has never taken a position concerning Ocean Protein and whether the east side citizens have a valid complaint when they say it is a nuisance? You should interview people like Tom Coyle. You would find him fair minded and informative and, most of all, concerned about quality of life issues in his city. You know that citizen involvement in civic affairs is at a dismal level. Voter turnouts are a major source of shame for a country that allows all people a right to speak out about their government. Yet when the election was over, your on-line paper showed a smiling Jack Durney, surrounded by supporters and gave the impression that all was well and those upstarts who had the temerity to challenge the status quo were put in their proper place. Don’t you find it at all significant that so many people voted against the incumbent? Not just in Hoquiam but other communities as well. Was it not only about 25% of the population that elected the victorious? Hardly a landslide. Jack should spend some time meeting with those who opposed him and really listen to their concerns. I think your paper should do the same. This Ocean Protein conflict is not over by any means. You would do well to go out into the public domain and talk with average citizens rather than sit sequestered in your Daily World offices and sharing your opinions among yourselves.

One final thing. This letter is not meant to bust your ass so much as to express my feelings about the value of a free press. I do enjoy many articles in your paper. I like your Q and A articles where you nutshell someone who has impact on the community and also I like some of your Perspectives articles. Also, John, for the most part I like it when you write an article on the opinion page. I see you as a thinking person and not a knee-jerk reactionary who spouts off wild and crazy ideas. I think the press has a social responsibility that is a few rungs higher up the ladder than a lot of businesses. Your job is to inform the public about the world around them so they can make good decisions about our country’s direction. This is not something that is the responsibility of a company like Wal-Mart say. I am merely asking you to concentrate harder on your civic duty. I would like it if we end up having more conversations about you, me and Grays Harbor. My e-mail address is: deafman01@comcast.net. My home phone is 532-7150. I would enjoy hearing from you anytime. Thank you for putting up with my simple desultory philippic.

David Fisher

After publishing my father’s first letter, Mr. Hughes personally called my father to invite him on the Reader Advisory Board, a term that starts at the beginning of next year.

I can’t believe my dad wrote that many words without one of them being profane. Oh wait, he did say “hell” and “ass”. Good job.

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