Some notes from a small-town editor trying to help build a big-time paper:
- Election season is nearly upon us. The Mirror will publish two special sections of election "grids" - Monday (municipalities and local government) and Tuesday (school boards).
It's our first such venture as the coverage used to be spread out over several days. We hope by packaging it as we have (well, really, it's the work of News Editor Margaret Moses, Tom Worthington II, our graphics guru, and our copy desk), it will be easier to handle, and you'll have more time to digest it.
- Speaking of elections, the question came up as to why we don't publish letters from the candidates.
It's pretty simple: We try to be fair to everyone, and if we took a letter from Candidate A, we'd feel compelled to allow Candidate B to answer it.
We usually don't even allow incumbents to expound on a subject while they're running in fairness to the process.
We will allow candidates to respond if they are criticized by name in a letter to the editor.
- We also only cover contested races, as space simply doesn't allow those running unopposed to have a platform. We have enough trouble tracking the contested races.
- I've received some negative feedback questioning our use of "gonna," and being a traditionalist, it's understandable how a retired English teacher can be offended by it. I am, too.
To clarify: "Gonna" typically surfaces in quotes and is not used by our own writers, at least not in print.
And we don't doctor quotes to make people sound better. The other issue is that, according to dictionary.com, "gonna" is an acceptable word. Merriam Webster hasn't gone that far yet, and let's hope it doesn't. The solution would be for "going to" to be said properly.
- In the meantime, I will work on the "gotta" that was printed in a quote the other day.
- Our newsroom occasionally gets together for some "shop talk" sessions with a guest lecturer. Last week, veteran photographer Gary Baranec, who teaches part time at Penn State, offered some pointers to reporters who are asked to pick up a camera.
One of the things Baranec said that I found interesting is that the use of a flash "generally only covers 6 to 8 feet. Beyond that, you're only getting available light." This means, he said, all of the people blasting away at major events, such as the Super Bowl, would be better off without a flash.
- Most took Morgan Spurlock's local appearance in the spirit it was intended - to have a little fun and gain some exposure for Sheetz and the city of Altoona. Let me emphasize the word "most."
I received a call from a woman literally screaming, "What are you people doing? Are you crazy?" after she apparently had enough Page A1 coverage. The message was left at 5:10 a.m.
- One of Don Witherspoon's better lines at the annual NAACP?Freedom Fund Dinner took a playful jab at local radio personality Dick DiAndrea, who apparently was supposed to present an award. Witherspoon, the emcee, said, "Is Dick DiAndrea here?" and when no one came forward, Witherspoon added, "Good."
- Friends of the departed John Conlon continue to pay tribute to him. The "Hot Dog day" lunch, the last Thursday of each month at Texas Hot Dogs downtown, drew a crowd of 20-plus a week after his funeral.
- It's clear that there's almost nothing that engages our readership like the TV section and the puzzles, including the Celebrity Cypher, and we know we've had some problems recently. Trust that we've addressed it, and I've volunteered to be led to the guillotine if the pattern persists.
- Happy Mother's Day to my mother, Charlotte Rudel, and yours.