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The 'Who Said That' linePosted Wednesday, August 8, 2007, at 10:51 PM
I was glad to see countrymom's comment about the "Who Said That" column under John Carney's "Physician, heal thyself" blog (I tried to leave a comment there but am still getting used to this system -- when you're a staff blogger the process for leaving a comment on another's blog is a little different than for readers).
I handled that call-in line for its final two years or so before its sudden demise in March 2003, and it was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done at the T-G.
It was often the "talk of the town" and gave the "average person" a chance to speak out.
Unfortunately, that line was cancelled somewhat abruptly in March 2003 after we were told that certain higher-ups in Shelbyville allegedly complained that critical comments made the area look bad to industrial prospects. Others allegedly didn't want any aspect of the Celebration criticized, and still other "big shots" were allegedly insistent that 1) they shouldn't be subjected to anyonymous comments and 2) some of the callers didn't know all the facts about their subjects and were, therefore, uneducated "yahoos."
Many of those callers DID know what they were talking about and simply dared to present what the powerful didn't want spoken. I resented hearing the callers, who I'd grown to respect and care about, being referred to in such a manner. Public debate belongs to everyone, not just one certain clique who thinks others should pay taxes and keep their mouth shut.
There are some people who honestly can't speak publicly without their jobs being threatened. They need to be heard.
In retrospect, the only mistake was that we let one caller known as "Mr. Pow! Pow! Pow!", who advocated shooting stray dogs, go a little too far.
That line might have stayed if it had lasted until the T-G's purchase by Rust Communications, since our flagship, the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau, has a call-in line and since Rust management suggested one be resumed. I respect such an open attitude.
So I'm excited about our new blogs and the ability to leave comments here and at the end of stories. Once again, the public's being heard.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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