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Publisher's Voice: A closer look at a voice in the Sound Off-sphere

Posted 8/28/12

Sound Off – love it or hate it. If items lean your way, then it’s a great read. If parts go against your grain, then the weekly jumble of comments is an abomination. There’s hardly ever any gray area with this part of your community newspaper. …

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Publisher's Voice: A closer look at a voice in the Sound Off-sphere

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Sound Off – love it or hate it. If items lean your way, then it’s a great read. If parts go against your grain, then the weekly jumble of comments is an abomination. There’s hardly ever any gray area with this part of your community newspaper.

From time to time I place snippets from Sound Off here. One that’s in this week’s Journal caught my eye:
“I am furious about what is going on in this town. Do I want to get up off my couch and give up my free time to attend a council meeting? No, but I will, and you should, too.”

Everyone has their opinion, and Sound Off has provided an open forum in much the same way as the Internet’s social media posts now do. Take out the quirky ones – “Hello, Middletown!” and the bizarre “I think they should give Skittles away for free” – and you’ll find voices sounding off clear and true. But if you read between the lines, as in the Sound Off above, there’s more there than meets the eye.

Spare me a couple of minutes and read on while I dissect this deceptively simple 39-word item mentioned above:
• “I am furious about what is going on in this town. . . ”

I admire the passion of this opening sentence. I detect a heightened awareness by the writer. Clearly she or he has reached a point of frustration so much so that it required expression.

• “Do I want to get up off my couch and give up my free time to attend a council meeting? No. . . ''

Ahh, this is good. I respect the writer for being honest - coming clean in the admission that she or he probably isn’t involved in local government and/or politics. Sadly, participation in community issues by most citizens usually involves voting once or twice a year. The number of those individuals fulfilling that responsibility decreases every year. Even more alarming is the lack of participation by residents in local governments, ranging from volunteering on committees to attending meetings of town councils or school boards.

This sentence also tells me the writer is someone whose life is full of many “to-do’s” - probably many that require immediate action while others are sidelined because of a reluctance to get involved.

• “ . . .but I will. . .”
Here’s the realization that the writer has finally reached a point where a call for action can no longer be ignored and he or she has made a decision - to attend a council meeting,  an expression of commitment.

• “ . . .and you should, too.”
This statement is an appeal for others to follow, to consider the bigger picture and voice opposition or support. It’s a genuine plea to fulfill one’s civic responsibility, so that elected officials are reminded that they are to answer to the citizenry - not to hidden agendas, not to fabricated catastrophes, not to specters of illegalities and subterfuge, but to those who put them into power.

This Sound Off carries the same weight as the statement made by the TV news anchor portrayed by actor Peter Finch in the excellent 1976 movie “Network:’’ “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Remember that one? The speech came during a pivotal point in the film.

Certainly, there have been and will be many more crucial issues in this town over the next months.
Are you just as frustrated?
Will you do something about it?

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