One of the more popular items we publish is our weekly “Thanks and Spanks” section – found conveniently at the bottom of this page.
These items appear each Friday, right here on the Opinion page – you know, the page where Republicans believe there’s too many anti-GOP cartoons or columns and the Democrats believe there’s too much bashing of the president. (It’s called an “opinion” page, people.)
I digress ….
Think of these “thanks and spanks” as a nugget of information one would like to share with others. Perhaps not enough for a full course – think Letter to the Editor – but it works as an appetizer.
Each week, many submissions find their way across my desk, and, as one would expect, several don’t make it to the printed edition.
It’s as simple as this – they are used or rejected at the discretion of The Review editorial staff (aka, me – in most cases). It’s part of the policy that accompanies each week’s printed submissions. Go ahead and check it out. I’ll give you a couple seconds . . .
What “discretion” means is if I don’t want it to run, it ain’t running. It’s that simple.
I can also tell you this – if I don’t know it to be true, there’s a good chance it also will never see the light of day in this newspaper.
It’s easy to allow a “spanks” about the road conditions in a given community – even if I haven’t driven it myself. The majority of roads in our area are bad, most everyone would agree. Even community officials.
But if Joe Public complains of favoritism because a coach allows one player more time on the court than another, how am I supposed to know that to be true? I wasn’t at the game. And I’m not going to the game.
I’m not going to allow a coach to be named in this instance because that is one person’s opinion, and perhaps that one person has an axe to grind. And that one person, by submitting a “spanks” doesn’t have to have his name associated with it.
There have been times when people have been named in “spanks,” but again it’s because we all know it to be true.
Most times, I attempt to make submissions as generic as possible. I may not name the particular department or grocery store, the school or even the city, but I think the point gets across to the readers.
What’s too easy is for people to submit a “thanks” or a “spanks” and do so anonymously. It’s easy to say what you really feel when there’s no repercussions.
There’s many of us, myself included, who say one thing behind closed doors and say another thing in public. Am I proud of that? No. But I’m honest. It’s just the way most of us are. Call it a politically correct thing.
So don’t call me and ask why your submission wasn’t included with the latest issue to hit the newsstands. If you don’t see it in print, or a version of it, there’s a good chance no one else will either.
You must have broken the rules.
A part of the policy that fails to happen many times is the fact that all submissions must contain the sender’s name and telephone number. These things aren’t included in the printed form in any way, though. It’s a validity thing.
So if you don’t include that basic information, again there’s a good chance the submission will be placed in File 13.
While glancing through the submission policy perhaps the words “libel” or “slander” jump out at you. Goggle those terms or perhaps crack open the dictionary that’s collecting dust on the bookshelf, and then you’ll understand more of our stance on certain submissions.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading what irks or pleases people. These days it’s all about “the snow plow never comes down my street” or the ever popular “someone returned something I lost.”
I do have a confession to make – there’s an unwritten rule that we neither “thank” nor “spank” ourselves in print. We’re a newspaper and of course we make some people happy and others, well, not so happy.
And if you see me out and about, don’t ask me who authored the submission. I’m not telling. The mouth is locked and the key was tossed away.
Most importantly, though, I ask you to keep those submissions coming. Keep thanking. Keep spanking. And keep reading.
(Jim Mackey is managing editor of The Review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)