Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 5 - Little red notes get me a little hot under the collar

On the fifth day of my endeavor, I read the following:

Matthew 3:1-12

Acts 3

Psalm 5

Genesis 12-14

Is a note written with red magic marker in large letters a nasty note? If so, I received one in the mail today: “If you can’t print it (the paper), I don’t want it.”

OK, just don’t renew – no need for nastiness. I might not want it, either, but I don’t think I would write a nasty note in bright red magic marker.

Sorry for all the changes, but I fear more are on the horizon. Actually, I take that back. I’m not sorry for all the changes. It seems only a handful of people like to read the actual news anyway.

Another handful likes to skim through the paper to see if anyone they know is in it. Others like to pick up a copy if they see it lying on a table or counter somewhere. Still others like to claim they read it and then call and ask why we haven’t covered something. Normally, the story was covered four weeks ago with two or three follow-ups, but they “must have missed that issue.”

Still, people want us to keep printing the paper.

As much as I love our printer and don’t want to discontinue a steady, monthly revenue for the Ark City Traveler, printing costs money. Money, unfortunately, doesn’t grow on trees. And, frankly, I’m tired of trying to squeeze blood out of my imaginary turnips … only to receive nasty notes in bright red magic marker.

I’ve really done all I can do. I can’t make people love news. I can’t make advertisers more profitable so that maybe they can afford to advertise. Furthermore, I don’t really want to anymore.

Am I frustrated? You bet. Am I angry? Sometimes. Do I love the news, the First Amendment, freedom of speech, open meetings, open records, civil rights? I love all those things almost more than my own life. I love them. I love what they stand for. I love knowing they exist. I love studying them and all their intricacies. I love hearing opinions about them. I love seeing how badly public officials, attorneys, judges, reporters and everyday citizens can completely screw them up.

Do I love them enough to dig my family into a hole of debt and dig myself into a mountain of misery for people who send me notes in bright red magic marker? Nope. I don’t love anything that much – except God, but I also know God would not bring on a mountain of misery without gifting me with a shovel.

I have in my possession a golden shovel, “and if we just keep digging, we can reach the foundation of our souls.” Thank you, Jars of Clay, for relaying God’s message to me and telling me – for the umpteenth time – that it’s time to quit printing the news and get on with life and my role in it, which I’m afraid, is not printing a weekly paper in Grant County Oklahoma.

Sometimes, we just plain refuse to listen to direction, even when it is screamed in our faces over and over again.

I’m listening now. I heard it loud and clear in a note written in bright red magic marker: “If you can’t print it, I don’t want it.”

Well, we can’t print it. And we won’t print it after this week. Save the nasty notes and the magic markers. Although we’d like to think we’re so important that the county just cannot go on without us, we know it has survived at least a century so far. I’m sure it will go on, as will we.

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