The Ludicrous, The Laughable, The Lovable

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"Beloved" will probably never be written on my tombstone. One of the unfortunate precepts of the newspaper business is that when everybody is mad at you, you are probably doing your job just fine steering a fairly straight course through the things people feel passionately about.

There are any number of issues that could be cited as examples. Do we or do we not have a water problem? Who should be the next mayor of Payson? Are we treated fairly by southern Gila County?

But the main issue around which all these others revolve is that of growth. People are zealous about growth.

At one extreme, you have the real estate agents and developers and most of the business community arguing that if you're not growing, you're dying.

At the other extreme, you have the retirees who moved here for a quality of small-town life they see eroding as each new manufactured home or load of lumber rolls into town.

Now that I have summarized both sides of the growth issue, I can promise you what will happen next. Both sides will find fault with what I've written because they ever-so-sincerely believe the other side is so wrong it doesn't deserve to be mentioned in print.

Being passionate about something is OK, I guess. But what the people who represent the extremes need to realize is that a free press that presents both sides is absolutely essential to our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy.

As a journalist, I try very hard to be fair. And I try to remember when somebody complains, I am probably succeeding.

But reading should never be a passive process. As a reader, you can help by:

1. Expecting fairness and objectivity in the news stories you read in the Roundup. But also understand that there are two valid sides to all issues and that it is our job to present them.

2. Letting us know if we miss a point that you consider a valid or critical one. But please do it in a constructive manner.

3. Having a sense of humor about the things we disagree on and the differences among us. Life would be pretty dull if we all agreed on everything.

4. Understand that "Around the Rim" is a signed column in which I am given considerable editorial license that I don't have in my news stories. At small-town newspapers, we get to wear a lot of hats.

"Around the Rim" is an outlet of sorts for me. Unlike the reporting that I do in the Roundup, where absolute objectivity is the goal, the stuff that appears in "Around the Rim" is limited only by the dictates of good taste and sometimes even that rule falls by the wayside.

It's a place where I get to go once a week to poke fun at our quirks and foibles; where I get to express a thing or two that I believe in; where I can make observations about things that strike me as ludicrous, laughable and sometimes even lovable.

And, so I can salvage this particular column from its so-far-way-too-serious nature, here are some examples of what I can do and say here that I can't in a news story:

LAUGHABLE

How mayoral candidate Jim White looks a little like Mr. Magoo, while candidate Ken Murphy is a dead ringer for Drew Carey. (And please don't read into this observation that we somehow support one over the other for mayor.)

How politicians can trip themselves up over the dumbest things like the ducks and geese at Green Valley Park. (Remember guys, you love babies and animals. Always. Unconditionally.)

LUDICROUS

Calling Tyler Parkway a "residential street" to justify its 25 mph speed limit.

How Gila County never seems to understand that getting defensive when us "northerners" claim we're being slighted just makes it worse. Pay it some lip service, guys, and it will go away.

Salt River Project owning the rain and snow that falls on our private property. Talk about playing God.

LOVABLE

A very old couple sitting on a bench outside Wal-Mart sharing a bag of popcorn.

Guys who wear Payson Concrete & Materials caps all day, every day.

Transplanted Californians who stick out like sore thumbs despite their best efforts to look "country." Maybe it's the sandals, guys.

"Around the Rim" readers sometimes wonder if I'm a bit tetched. Actually, it's what keeps me sane.

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