Typing this Tuesday and that final kiss from winter is predicted for the afternoon: Sleet, possible ice, and all the complexities which come with such a prediction. News of closings coming in (which we post as quick as we get our hands on it).
The news of the (sleet, ice) storm came in last night so we began buckling down right away. Got to get the paper out, after all. Hence production deadline was moved up a few hours and, yes, a heads-up was put on our front page in case plans don’t work out and the paper’s late getting onto doorsteps.
We do our best, but as we all know you can only do so much about ice. We are planning on shutting down the office early, if not minutes after this column is loaded into the system.
And speaking of winter i did find time to have a chat with Terry Drew from Petit Jean Electrical co-op - story on 1A. The chat, in turn, was prompted by other chats, in this case with friends who had a breath-taking moment when they opened their electrical bill this month and saw what they were getting charged for January.
It was not, in a number of cases, pretty.
And what made it even less pretty was the outcome of conversations on social media about the bills. Granted, a big bill is a big bill and nobody likes getting one of those. And with that in mind it’s only fair that someone express shock and dismay over having received such a thing. I mean of course, and it’s nice (no, really, “nice”) to be able to share such sad news with friends. Social media is good for that, for sharing what’s going on in our lives and drawing on the support we gather from others in our lives.
I do it, I do it all the time. Heck, social media’s a favorite spot to test my jokes, if nothing else. (And I’m a hoot. Not everybody might agree, but what do they know?)
But then comes the sharing counter-force, and it’s a thing of our times, something our grandparents never had to deal with: The social media pontificator (and his or her friend, the social media overstatement).
These are the ones who not only commiserate with you, but in doing so find a reason to pontificate upon some other entity for you being in a situation which invites commiseration. This works especially well when facing down organizations, where instead of a person, it becomes this monolithic machine bent on our dismay and destruction. Hence your power bill has gone up because the evil machine is evil and a machine and doesn’t care about you because it’s an evil machine.
(And now the overstatement, bringing up the rear: It’s not just a machine, but it’s the biggest and worst machine ever. “What is this, the [insert name of something awful from history] [something about jackboots]?”)
So I called Terry. He came over, sat down, and walked me through it all. Cut the wheat from the rhetoric, as it were. It’s been cold, usage goes up when it’s cold. It’s been very cold. Use goes very up when it’s very cold (sentence of the year right there).
Some of the best advice I ever got - which oddly was delivered in something of a drive-by statement by a guy I know - was to know the difference between excuses and reasons. Terry gave me some reasons. I reported.
This is, as we continue the tour of this issue, what this week’s editorial about, as well as the ad at the bottom left of page 5A. (Go ahead and look, I’ll wait here.) (Okay, you’re back?). I say with some pride that, despite constant invitations to do so, I don’t guess at stuff. Nor does “I heard” or “I guess” work as sources. Won’t have it.
Facts, objective truth, lives in a very singular place and I, we, continue to work to make this paper one of those places. Granted, I’m only human so sometimes I have to double back and correct something reported in error - but that’s part of being true.
And please forgive the “accuracy in reporting” tub-thumping going on this issue, the ad, the editorial, this bit, but it’s part of a national campaign, and of course a national campaign we support for accurate journalism producing real news. Newspapers like ours, county weeklies (but never weakly - I make that joke all the time) up to and including big-city dalies are all taking time, and a bit of space, to state out loud it’s all about real news.
And that’s a fact.