Many people would likely bristle at the thought of opening emails or answering the phone daily to hear from readers who passionately invoke name-calling or call into question a person’s integrity and skill set. That’s just part of the job in news media, if we are doing our job correctly.
Our May 28 editions for St. Joseph and Sartell-St. Stephen struck nerves across the ideology spectrum. Dennis Dalman’s opinion column, “Thank you, Liz Cheney, for the troubling truth,” as well as our editorical, SCOTUS on trial next term, juxtaposed with a letter to the editor encouraging readers to wear orange to honor victims of gun violence fired up the “right.” While our story about a St. Joseph family who attended the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C. fired up the “left.”
At the Newsleaders, our intent is not to appeal to any particular side but to report what’s happening in the communities we serve and to present a variety of voices from our neighbors.
Here is just a sampling of feedback we received from the last issues. (Please note, these readers will remain anonymous because their submissions were not intended as open letters to the editor to be published on these pages.)
“I am writing to express my disappointment and disgust that your paper would give an entire page to someone who flies a F–K Biden flag, especially 6 months after the election. Is this the view that your paper supports? Are you that short of material that we need to give space to a self professed radical? If so, perhaps you could quit delivering it to my mailbox. Newsleader? or Propaganda Pages?”
That same day, we received this:
“Hi, it would be greatly appreciated if you would quit dropping off your garbage liberal paper to my address. Your lead editor is biased, high on something, and out of touch with the people he tries to reach. Most of us support law enforcement, support the military, support honest and fair elections, work for a living, want a crime free and safe community, on and on…….the direct opposite of what the lead editor and the democratic party stands for….thanks.”
Emails and phone calls like this allow us to have meaningful, follow-up conversations with our readers … and, at the very least, to clarify our editor is indeed a woman. These follow-ups also have garnered letters to the editor and guest columns that share the voices of our communities.
While the semantical packaging of reader mail and phone calls is sometimes rough, the end result is the same. We elicited a response. We’ll keep doing our job.
And please, dear readers. Keep reading. Keep responding.