No news is bad news
When letters, phone calls and e-mails start coming in Monday morning, we know we've done our job to get people reading the paper.
I'll take any kind of feedback over no feedback at all.
Here are excerpts of a few of the comments we've received in the last few weeks:
First, in the previous post on this blog, there have been several reader posts about the United States' involvement in Afghanistan. I wrote in in the post accompanying our story on Lt. Col. John Loomer of Delavan that even if you didn't agree with his assertion that the United States shouldn't be pulling out, his voice deserves to be heard because he'd actually been there.
That elicited this comment from an anonymous poster, "Regardless of any good being done, it is outweighed by the fact that it is an illegal war which is bankrupting our country.
"We need to mind our own business, bring our troops home and take care of our own problems. You can expect more bridge collapses and terror attacks because we have left our country unprotected and destroyed our military."
A post signed by Bradley Geyer asserts that, "The Bush administration had plans ready to attack Afghanistan prior to September 11, 2001. They just needed an excuse."
Speaking of Sept. 11, our letters to the editor have made it to Texas apparently, where Michael Benninger of Fort Worth e-mailed to say he agreed with Bernie Dalsey's guest opinion of a few weeks ago.
Dalsey is one of several regular letter writers alleging the government's conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks. In Benninger's letter (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition), he writes that the reason the government's role in Sept. 11 hasn't been reported is that the mainstream media are in on it, too.
The other obvious reason is that there is no real evidence that the government was behind the attacks. There's no journalist that I know who would sit on a story like that.
The other point is that citizens should question their government.
On that point, I totally agree. The public shares as much blame as any politician or journalist for abetting the rush toward war. Perhaps if the average citizen was as critical of our national leaders as they are of their local politicians, our country wouldn't be in the current mess in Iraq that it is.
Here's another national issue with local fallout: The raid at Whitewater's Star Packaging that was either an immigration raid or a false identity theft raid, depending on who you talk to.
Our stories last week on a rally marking the one-year anniversary of the raid prompted Dan Emelity of Elkhorn to write that he agreed that our immigration system needs revamping. (read his entire letter on 7A in the Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007 print edition.)
"The sooner the better," he wrote. "However, the answer to a broken system is not to cheat, lie and break American laws.
"The articles presented only the human side of the illegal immigrants. That's fine but totally incomplete and unbalanced."
I replied that we're guilty of the accusation that we tend to focus to a certain degree on the human side of the story.
When the issue affects people here in Walworth County however, we feel we can make a contribution to the national debate by reporting issues and incidents here in Walworth County.
As for the time we spend on "the human side," we include that because it's the best way to draw readers from all points of view into the story. If people don't read it, we've accomplished nothing.
Comments there took a decidedly unsympathetic tone, such as, "Why would they be separated from their children? Wouldn't they take their children with them?"
Or, "The Bible also says obey your country's laws. You're breaking ours. Go back home."
We don't run political columnists in The Week because we just don't have the space to present the diversity of political views that can be found among the residents of Walworth County. We don't run editorials for the same reason.
What we hope to do is add to the political discourse by presenting relative and factual information. The opinions that readers attach to those stories is up to them.
In any case, considering Malsch has given five-star reviews to the last two Michael Moore films, I'm thinking his political leanings aren't too hard to figure out.
The anonymous letter writer, who colorfully refers to Malsch as "David bin Laden," wrote in a one-page tiny-type letter, "For an eternity, I have hoped to read just one, single movie review in The Week that does not contain the anti-American hate speech of your movie reviewer David bin Laden.
"I have lately accepted having to end each article feeling upset by the reminder that every newspaper from New York to Walworth County is run by the left-wing minority.
"I even thought there was a culmination of sorts when bin Laden was able to squiggle in another great bash of President Bush in a review of the Simpson's.
"You, Mr. Plutchak," he continues, "should be ashamed-absolutely, positively ashamed-to allow this in the movie review section of your paper."
Objections noted, and I've passed along the complete letter to Malsch. But mostly, I'm glad that, like it our hate it, readers keep on reading.