By Scooter MacMillan, Editor
I’ve always assumed that everyone’s dream job was to be a coach or an editor of a community newspaper.
What a big surprise it was to find that neither of these was everyone’s dream job. And an even bigger surprise to realize that neither of these jobs is probably even most people’s dream job.
For me, being editor of The Charlotte News is a big deal. A dream job come true.
Although a good many years ago I made the jump from small community newspapers to a relatively big daily newspaper. I don’t regret the jump, but I always thought the things I was learning helping put out a newspaper every day for more than 60,000 readers would make me better at putting out a small community newspaper.
So, here I am.
And I hope you’re with me in being committed to keeping the community in this community newspaper. At the risk of beating a dead cliché: It takes a community to put out a community newspaper.
Which means we depend on you donating your time, tips, photos and your struggles to put words to paper—or what passes for paper in this digital wonderland we live in.
Please let us know what’s going on so we can let you and your neighbors know what’s going on. And please, please send in your version and your pictures of what’s happening.
Please don’t wait until an event, an important date in Charlotte’s history, a 100-year-old’s birthday or something happens that is significant to a few or more people in town has already happened to tell us. Or, if you forget to tell us beforehand, and you suddenly realize in the middle of something happening that other people in Charlotte might like to know about it, please take out your cell phone or camera, get a couple of pictures and take a few notes.
You can contact me by email. I’m not just looking forward to hearing from you—I’m counting on it.
So much of what appears in The Charlotte News is written by volunteers. Sometimes it’s a one-shot deal, but many times it is dedicated people who send in things all the time.
If you’re wrestling with how to get your thoughts into words, may I suggest returning to the basics but with a twist. Whenever we write all of us should stop to reread our missives and ask ourselves does it contain the five W’s. Most of us have learned the four W’s and the H—who? what? when? where? and how? — but I contend there’s a fifth W, which stands for “weird” or “wacky.”
Before you hit send, stop, reread your article, letter to the editor, event write-up, whatever and ask yourself was there something weird. Often the weird detail that at first glance seems to have nothing to do with your writing is actually the telling detail that will put a story in focus or make it more compelling.
We may not welcome all opinions. If your opinion is defamatory, a personal attack on another person or group or patently false, we may not welcome it, but we do like being a forum for lively debate. So, don’t worry about having an unpopular opinion; worry about being mean.
I had a journalism history professor who quoted Thomas Jefferson as saying that our government is founded on the belief that “in a free and open encounter with falsehood, truth will prevail.”
I have searched for decades for the exact quote, but no matter, his statement gobsmacked me and became a principle I’ve tried to found my personal and professional life upon.
The way I see it, the encounter with competing ideas has to be free and open. If not, in some way truth can be transmuted into falsehood. But an openness that admits falsehood … well, it admits falsehood.
Enough of the highfalutin pretentiousness: This is your community newspaper, and, we don’t just aim to keep it that way, we aim to make it more that way—with your help.