I made a foolish mistake last week. Responding in anger to baseless criticism from someone who doesn’t know who we are, or what we do, is simply that, foolish.
Here at the Tribune last week we got a letter in the mail that accused us of biased reporting. The story in question was written by one of my staff, who just happens to be my daughter, hence the quick rise to anger. Yet as the publisher, nothing goes in this paper that I haven’t read and edited, so the criticism was not aimed at her directly, it was aimed at all of us.
The person who wrote the letter hid behind anonymity, failing to sign their claims, or even putting a return address on the envelope. That alone should have directed me to simply put the letter in the trash where it belonged. Anyone making accusations while hiding behind a veil doesn’t carry much credibility. In fact, if someone were to make a claim of bias, and do so to my face, it would garner a sit down to discuss the issue. That happened not long ago, and a discussion settled the issue.
The particular story this time involved the retirement of Dr. John Booth from the DeKalb Independent School District. When Dr. Booth first came to DeKalb, he and I didn’t agree on much, and in those early days, there was some tension. Still to this day we don’t agree on everything. Do you agree with most people on everything? But over the years it became clear to me that Dr. Booth knew how to manage a school district. He made mistakes yes, who hasn’t? But the years have shown that those who hired him all those years ago made a good decision.
With all that being in the past, Dr. Booth has retired. Just as our story reported, he has retired. It is true that his contract wasn’t renewed, for whatever reasons that may be. But the fact remains that he retired. After decades in education the man decided that his talents and knowledge could be used elsewhere. Regardless of what you may believe, no one knows the heart of Dr. John Booth except he and God Himself. The same goes for my heart, and yours.
As far as the person who wrote the unsigned letter, I don’t know their heart either. But I do know their claim was a lie. I know that they don’t know me, my staff, or this paper. If they did, they would know the countless hours spent trying to serve you. They would know that the paper you read every week is now put out though the efforts of just three of us. They would know that the pandemic has been hard on us too, and we too have struggled, scraped, and worried that this global virus could push us to extinction.
But I am here to tell you today, that nothing save the power of God Almighty will ever stop this newspaper from being published, at least not as long as the three of us who are here remain here. We are dedicated to a belief that this paper is vital to our community, and you our readers. We are determined that positive stories, pictures of your kids, and support of the businesses around us is important. Our mission remains, and that mission is to bring you the best possible paper each and every week that we can. Anybody that believes different, simply does not know who we are.
To the person who wrote that letter, I apologize for my words on social media. They were voiced in haste and in anger, and they have been removed. But hear me now.
You don’t know me, you don’t know us, and in fact, you don’t know DeKalb. And you don’t know that I have a love for the people of DeKalb that transcends normal. There are people in that town that are my lifelong friends. I cry when they cry, I mourn when they mourn, and I shout their victories. I have been covering the people of DeKalb long enough that children I once took pictures of, I now take pictures of their children. You don’t remember Abbi Matteson as a 1st grader. You don’t know Hubbard ISD teacher Christina Davis as the young girl who danced and sold snow cones. You don’t know the stories of DJ’s corny stories, or Gayla’s kindness, or Bro. Billy Blakeney’s smile. You don’t hold dear each and every Noble Heart, you didn’t stand before the city council asking permission to live downtown across the street from the historic State Theatre, and you weren’t on the field in Austin when the DeKalb Lady Bears went to the state championship over 20 years ago.
But I do, I did, and I was. So, before you accuse this paper of bias, maybe you should invest yourself as we have. The thing is though, we will always be here, we have always been here, and our value comes from knowing what we do is far more than just a job. For we too believe, we can, because we care.