September 30, 2016

We take a lot of heat

By Matt Keeton
Staff Writer | reporter@ogemawherald.com
Posted 8/16/11

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We journalists stand proudly among government and school officials under the scrutinizing eye of the public, and rightly so.

As a source of information to the public, members of the media should be held accountable for the accuracy of the information they provide, and be expected to uphold journalistic integrity or face the consequences.

However, in my experience, it is not a journalist’s ability to report news that comes under the most scrutiny. It is when we express our opinions, standing naked before the public in an intellectual sense, that we are subject to the most criticism.

In news media, the only appropriate avenue for a journalist of expressing an opinion is in a column such as the one you are currently reading — separate and easily discernable from hard news and feature items.

I enjoy stirring controversy with my opinions, occasionally drawing angry remarks. It lets me know I’m getting under your skin and making you think a little. However, such remarks are best left for opinions concerning controversial issues, as opposed to softer topics, such as a journalist’s commentary on his or her favorite sports team. Personally, it is when I am demeaned for making lighthearted and even positive commentary that such remarks seem a little below the belt.

It is not that I haven’t grown a thick skin in my position; it goes with the territory. It’s just that it becomes obvious in some cases that angry and hateful comments are not born of controversy, they simply born of anger and hatred.

These comments are the ones that I have the most desire to respond to. For instance, when someone says something along the lines of “Reading this column was a waste of my time,” I have a burning urge to respond, “I’m sorry you didn’t appreciate my column, but I didn’t force you to read it. I was simply commenting on a rather trivial topic, and was not going out of my way to waste a portion of your life. And considering it is you, not me, who delegates your time, perhaps you would be wise to go find a more useful way to spend your day.” However, it would be quite unprofessional of me to do so.

Opinion writing is meant to either entertain or draw discussion, and while it is usually entertaining for the writer to watch his or her work stir controversy, there are times when angry remarks seem inappropriate.

So I apologize if I don’t share your opinions, or if you find the topics I address meaningless. And if you wish to grill me for my view of important social issues, go ahead and take your best shot. You won’t hurt my feelings and will most likely put a smile on my face. You may even get me to rethink my position on the issue.

Save your scrutiny for news and opinions regarding important issues, or you may find yourself wasting your time.

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A great editorial Matt. I totally get the drift and commend you for your candor. Keep up the GREAT work. I know I enjoy honesty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | Report this

Matt, I hope you keep your word and separate news from your opinion. Unfortunately, many of your peers don't have the same character. I get so tired of reading the MSM comments that are definitely not objective. TV has the Matt Lauers and Cuty Curic and newspapers have the Krugmans a person who cannot tell fact from fiction. Well we should check in on you in a few years to see if your still of the same mind. The SSC class of 1962

Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Report this

Matt, I appreciate your article, despite the condescending undertones. You may disagree with me here, but wouldn't it be nice to read encouraging criticism (as an opinion) rather than morale dropping opinions? I rarely watch the news anymore because all the networks seem to care about is ratings, and of course bad news and shocking stories are what get the biggest ratings. I know I'm a minority here in the world where reality tv and celebrity drama take up most of the airtime and printed pages. You certainly have a right to express your opinions however you wish. Unfortunately, angry comments may not be directly intended for an author, but maybe due to someone else's comment, or even someone else's article, it is taken out on the wrong person. If I may make a suggestion, the next time you write an opinion article, go back and take a look at all of the negative comments you make, no matter how trivial, and see if you can restate them in a critical, yet positive manner. Take a moment to check the facts as related to your opinions and see if they coincide. Imagine you are a diehard fan of whatever you are criticizing and ask yourself how you might respond to your own comments. If you don't feel any different, so be it. You still have to be you. However, you still have to take the heat for your opinion from those people you intentionally or unintentionally stir up controversy with.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Report this

I enjoy stirring controversy with my opinions, occasionally drawing angry remarks. It lets me know I’m getting under your skin and making you think a little. However, such remarks are best left for opinions concerning controversial issues, as opposed to softer topics, such as a journalist’s commentary on his or her favorite sports team. Personally, it is when I am demeaned for making lighthearted and even positive commentary that such remarks seem a little below the belt.

There is a reason that you work at a small newspaper here. You may always be at best self-defeating writer. I don't regreat reading this and wish you well. Possibly, you will learn from your own reflection and move forward.

Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Report this

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