Banks County Opinions...

MAY 29, 2002


Column

By: Angela Gary
T
he Banks County News
May 29, 2002


Hopes patriotism continues to shine
The terroristic attacks on the United States last fall have impacted people in many different ways. Even those not directly involved, still feel the shock waves from that horrific time.
Some people travel a lot less than they used to. Others won’t leave their neighborhoods at all because of fears that another attack will come.
One of the few positive things that has come from that time is the swell in patriotism. It used to be only July 4, Memorial Day and Veterans Day that you would see a flag waving. Now, flags are common at homes, offices and on cars. I even have a flag postcard stuck on my computer with “America Home of the Free” on it.
The pledge to the flag and the playing of patriotic tunes is even more common at ball games, concerts and other events than it has been in recent history. People stand with pride and say the pledge with meaning instead of quickly reciting those words they learned so long ago in elementary school.
Musicians, especially those who perform country music, have written new songs with patriotic themes, including Alan Jackson and Toby Keith. Others, including Lee Greenwood, sing their old-time favorite patriotic songs at their concerts. From Brooks and Dunn singing “Only in America” to Aaron Tippin singing “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly,” more American pride than ever before can be found in the music world.
I’m proud of the flag and all that it stands for. I hope that signs of our American pride continue to wave as symbols of the freedom that we all enjoy. I hope songs filled with the wonders of this country continue to fill the airwaves and concert halls.
I hope this wave of patriotism continues to fly high. The intent of the attacks was to tear American apart so I’m glad to see us come together.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

Column

By: Rochelle Beckstein
T
he Banks County News
May 29, 2002


I’m a person, too
Test Taking Strategy #3: In a True/False question, if the word “all” or “none” is used, assume the answer is false.
I learned test taking strategy #3 in first grade. It helped me to succeed on true/false tests for 15 years, but it didn’t take me that long to figure out that that same strategy could be used in life.
All women can’t drive. Not true.
No man likes to shop. Not true.
Football jocks can’t make good grades. False.
All reporters are sensationalists. Again, not true.
If I were talking about static simplistic characters, all of these statements could be true. (And suitable for minor roles opposite real people.)
Generalizations like these rarely hold up under the microscope.
I’m a reporter. But I’m also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter and a friend. I spend my free time sewing clothes for my daughter and reading popular fiction. I get up early in the morning because I can’t sleep past dawn. I added a fish pond to my backyard because I like the sound of running water. I still believe every tall tale my father tells me even though he’s been telling them to me for 22 years. I slow to 10 miles per hour when I see anything as big as a butterfly near the side of the road. I’ve never stolen anything in my life, never smoked and I rarely drink alcohol. In fact I wouldn’t know how to break the law. A reporter is not the sum of who I am.
I enjoy reporting good news. I have pride in my country and my state and it makes me happy when good things happen in my area of the world. I like high student test scores and successful building campaigns. But the bad must be reported with the good. If the bad is covered up, there would be few citizens’ improvement projects or petitions circulated to have stop signs placed at dangerous intersections. The news must be printed-all of it. There should never be an “off the record” comment. If you don’t want it printed, then don’t say it during a public meeting. It’s that simple. Not printing a comment because it’s proceeded by “This is off the record” is dishonest on my part. And I’m not going to become the reporter who picks and chooses what to report and what not to report. It’s all news.
As a profession, reporters are ranked below lawyers on the likeability scale, but we’re paid considerably less. We don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it for the adulation of our reading public. We do it because we believe everyone has the freedom to know the truth just as they have the freedom to own property. It’s an American right if not a human right.
And while I’m proud to report the news, I refuse to be lumped into a category of “all” reporters. I don’t deserve to be treated like I scour with vultures looking to feast on dead carcasses. Dramatic and comedic television shows have portrayed reporters as being the lowest of the low for so long that people believe it. We thrust tape recorders at widows and orphans, distort facts to sell papers and create the news if there is nothing sensational enough to report. Look around. That’s just not true.
I do my job and I do it well, but I can always use constructive criticism. Problems with my writing? Send me a note. Problems with society’s perception of a reporter? Take it somewhere else.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter with MainStreet Newspapers.

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