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Getting enjoyment out of hearing from our readers

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

 

I really enjoy hearing from our readers and it doesn’t matter how they communicate with me.
I try to read my emails on a daily basis. I attempt to return phone calls as quickly as possible, although I admit we’ve not had a voice mail system for long here at the News office, so sometimes I forget to check it.
I don’t even mind when people approach me at the grocery store or gas station and share their thoughts.
I also make every effort to reply to letters to the editor if they require a response.
My point in saying this is that I care about what the community cares about. I’m interested in what people think – be it good, bad or indifferent.
A newspaper should always have a page dedicated to the opinions of its staff and community.
The page that my column and the other staff of the paper appears on weekly is in the Grant County News called the Viewpoint Page. It’s always page 4. In some newspapers it is called the Editorial or Opinion page.
But no matter the name of the page, it’s purpose is to allow the free exchange of ideas.
Sometimes I write things on the page which make people mad. Sometimes I write things on the page, which make them laugh and sometimes I write things which make people cry.
However, the things that I write in this space, as well as anyone else on the newspaper staff that writes a column, are our opinions. They’re neither right nor wrong, but simply the way we see an issue or situation.
I received an email the other day that took me to task for expressing my personal opinion in this space called “Personally Speaking.” The letter writer said that as a trained reporter I should know better than to put my opinion in a piece that I had written.
I won’t disagree that a story, be it news, sports, education or business, should not contain the reporter or writer’s opinion, but a column is a totally different animal.
When people from the community share their opinion with the newspaper and asked that it be printed, we call this a letter to the editor or a guest column.
The only difference between the two is that a letter to the editor is limited to less than 200 words or less while a guest column can be more than that depending on the available space.
In the last few months, I’ve attempted to seek out other opinions from community members in order to have more diversity represented on the editorial page each week.
Pete Whaley, a republican, and Bill Adkins, a democrat, graciously write a point/counterpoint column every few months for us.
We’re looking for others in the community who would like to share their thoughts on community events, people, politics, schools, etc. If you’d like to know more about becoming a guest columnist or submitting a letter to the editor, then please email me at jbakernantz@grantky.com or call me at 859-824-3343.
Gathering diverse thoughts on topics of interest is also why we publish the “What do you think Grant County?” question and photograph on a monthly basis. This feature is where we settle on a question and then go out and ask people from the county to answer it. We find those willing to be part of it at the park or in parking lots, pumping gas or often at an event. Our purpose is to share with our readers what others think.
Again, I enjoy when our readers take the time out of their busy schedules to communicate with us, in whatever manner they can. That means they care about the newspaper and the community and that is a good thing.
(Jamie Baker-Nantz is the editor for the Grant County News. She can be reached at jbakernantz@grantky.com.)