The joke in my extended family is that conversations are a contact sport.
You’re going to get challenged, a sense of humor helps and if you get defensive you’ll probably just get steamrolled. But there’s also a lot of love. Which is why writing this column and conversing with readers often feels like one big family reunion.
With readers of widely varying backgrounds and opinions, I get a lively response via the firstname.lastname@example.org email inbox. The weekly mailbag can run from a handful to hundreds – I respond as I can but whether I do or not, know that I read them all and appreciate that you took time to write. Here’s a sampling of responses I’ve received from you in recent months.
My husband and I visited Beaver Island for a week every year. Unfortunately those treks ended with his untimely death in 2013. I think of that “special to us” island every summer and have often contemplated a visit on my own. Though I know it would be emotional, I am sure it would be a step back to such a happy time for us. What wonderful memories I have of the place and the people which are Beaver Island. – Rosemary
John: That’s very touching, Rosemary. I hope you return soon and that, in the meantime, our coverage stirs those fond memories.
As a lifetime resident of this island I love being an “invasive species.” Why would you say that? What an absolute stupid comment. Having a ball with a bunch of other invasive species. With that being said: Get off my island. – Mike
John: Touché, sir! LOL
“Covid is over” as an article was excellent, but as a headline, it was dishonest, disingenuous, and did a disservice to the community. We still have over 300 people in the U.S. dying a day from COVID. “The COVID Emergency designation is over” would have been accurate and appropriate. – Tim
John: I agree – there are times that headline shorthand can gave an inaccurate impression. I’ll keep that in mind.
There have been more media articles discussing what we know about ‘long COVID.’ I think your point was to show how MLive has persevered and adapted. I respect that, and I certainly appreciate your organization’s coverage. To those of us who have lost a great deal during the pandemic and are still trying to protect ourselves in a world that seems to have forgotten about this virus it probably didn’t come across as you intended. – Chris
John: You may appreciate this guest column written by another Chris – MLive employee Chris Machniak, who struggles with ‘long COVID.’
My takeaway from your editorial was that journalists are dumbing down their “news” to be more palatable for those people who don’t really want news that makes an impact in the real world, like government spending or watchdog stories. – Anne
John: Newspapers historically have offered broad options for readers – government reporting, crime, sports, features, puzzles, advice columns, etc. But we do plenty of “deep-dive” reporting (click here to see lots of recent examples). Data helps make our best efforts better serve our diverse group of readers.
Am I to understand that as an older white professional male, I represent a narrow slice of my community? – Daryl
John: I’m an older white professional male, too. As a person who helps decide what news is chosen for hundreds of thousands of people from diverse backgrounds – that in my view is indeed narrow.
The Kalamazoo Promise was well-intentioned and has done a significant amount of good for some people. But it embodies the assumption that 4-year college is the best for everyone, and for society. This has translated into disrespect toward people in the working class. – Benjamin
John: You make a good point that wasn’t touched on in my column. You’ll be happy to know the Kalamazoo Promise DOES fund apprenticeships and trade programs. You can read more about that by clicking here.
A great example of no matter what government and or private capital does to improve the “equity” equation, you can’t please everyone. If I was a minority candidate and knew of the program I’d decide to pull up my bootstraps, do well in school and aspire to make it. Self-determination is undervalued in too many communities or cohorts. Our culture needs to change in those environs. – Pete
Ed: The Promise has been an amazing community asset, and it has been emulated elsewhere. Our reporting was intended to show the whole range of what it aspired to do, has done, and how it is evolving. It also showed some glaring gaps based on race.
Those letters all came in response to columns I’ve written. But I also get emails from readers who are provoked by other aspects of MLive articles:
In the spirit of helpfulness, and upon reading several articles with errors, I am sharing this information. In an article yesterday I noticed the following errors … (a missing apostrophe, a typo and an extraneous word). I got so distracted I couldn’t finish the article. Please help. Sincerely, A Reader So Distracted by Errors that Finishing the Article Isn’t an Option
John: Aunt Louann, is that you?? As I said at our last family gathering, we’re humans and make mistakes. We regret them and always strive to do better. But thank you for caring enough to write and point them out.