Out of My Mind, June 16, 2012

Time to give other opinions some space

We’ve taken some criticism of late for publishing several letters from Mendy Combs-Boge regarding the school board. She’s had her share of this newspaper’s ink for awhile.
Some publishers enforced a policy that said letter writers could address one topic once in a 30 day period. We also requested the number of words in a letter to be kept under 350. Some thought this was too limiting and that part of the policy was dropped under NCW Media. However, even when it was in force, we often made exceptions. Sometimes like Maria Griffin’s letter this week, we give a long letter space as a Guest Editorial.
It might be time to readopt our old policy – going over old ground and not adding anything new to the discussion is boring and a guarantee that only but a few true believers will skip reading it. I often hear “I read the name at the bottom first and if is so and so I don’t read it.”
As far as clarifying what a letter writer has to say, that has much more to do with trying to make sure our readers know what they’re trying to get across, than whether the writer has his or her facts straight. These appear on the opinion page and they’re just that: the writer’s opinion.
Those in the public eye who feel they’ve been shabbily treated have just as much right – even more so – to respond to the writers on this page. Also, those in the public eye who feel that way – those we employ or elect to run our country, state, county, cities and schools – need to either grow a thicker skin, or find other work. Criticism may not always be fair, but they’ve chosen to do the jobs that put them in front of the public either as our employees or as our elected representatives. Criticism comes with the territory – like running a newspaper.
That said, Oroville’s school district will get past this. The last board meeting went very smoothly. Those supporters of former board chairman Phil Barker, who made a very public resignation in the letters section of this newspaper, need to move on. He wasn’t hounded out of office like some would have you believe. He didn’t get his way and admitted he had a “John Wayne attitude” in the way he looked at things – seeing them as either black or white.
Some seem to forget it takes more than one member to make a board. Those that champion someone for office will always be disappointed if they think once their candidate is elected they will vote just the way you want and that vote will always carry the day. It just doesn’t work that way. We elect more than one person to represent us and everyone should be glad of it.
So, someone else can take up Combs-Boge’s cause if they want, but we’re giving her a summer vacation. Just keep your letters short and to the point and make sure you have your facts straight. For example, some people’s claims that enrollment has gone down at Oroville School District won’t fly when the numbers for the last few years say otherwise. Write your letter and move on to a different topic next time or wait 30 days and take it up again. Just don’t repeat what you said in your previous letter because it gets tedious for us all, especially for those of us that “have” to read them.
The opinion page is intended for those who feel underrepresented to be heard, and we feel privileged to bring you this forum. We just ask that you don’t abuse our good intentions.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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