2011-02-17 / This Week's Attitude

Misguided Criticism Ruffles My Professional Feathers

This Week’ s Attiitude
By Neil S. Friedman

Every once in a while we get a letter or a call from a subscriber who complains about something in the Courier. The editors welcome input from readers and usually absorb the criticism about the paper’s content without much concern. After all, it comes with the territory.

But every now and then our feathers are ruffled when our professionalism is questioned — particularly when it’s from an amateur.

Therefore, to the crabby “Canarsie Subscriber,” whose letter was printed in the February 10th edition, I (we) take umbrage with your remarks. My first reaction after reading the letter was !@%$#!!! After some deliberation, I offer this feedback.

When someone takes the time to pass judgment on a subject about which they most likely have no skill, he/she should at least have the backbone to include their name. (The original letter was signed, which is mandatory, but the writer requested anonymity when it was published. Nevertheless, the bozo misspelled the first name in the signature on the typed letter.)

Anyway, the editors challenge the letter writer, who finds the Courier “less interesting each week,” to prove to us that any newspaper — local or daily — covers Canarsie as thoroughly as we do. I respectfully remind anyone who agrees with the writer’s appraisal that it is impractical to satisfy everyone’s taste. We serve a disparate community and make an effort to publish material, not for one individual, one group or any single vicinity, but for our diverse readership.

I’ve worked for the Canarsie Courier for 15 years. With an editorial staff of three, which is small even for a local paper, and a few freelance reporters, I’m proud of the editorial content we publish every Thursday, which equals — and at times trumps — comparable newspapers with more reporters. We can’t possibly cover every event, but we make every effort to convey matters we feel are consequential to the communities we serve.

Most of all, the writer and readers may not realize it, but the job of a journalist is not to make news — just report it. Some readers consistently complain when we place tragic events, from photos of car accidents and fires to stories of crime, on our front page. We would rather not have headlines that announce bad news, but those issues, as a rule, sell more copies than ones with less shocking fare.

Most people are reluctant to admit they have a propensity for the grisly and unpleasant when they are observers not affected by misfortune. (Some may even feel, “There but for the grace of God go I.”) Perhaps that’s why most drivers rubberneck when they pass an accident and tabloids sell more papers when scandals are splashed across front pages.

I recently searched for an article to follow-up on a reader’s request and as I turned the pages of several issues from late 2010, I noticed an assortment of local news stories. Every issue had an adequate number of articles about the previous week in and around Canarsie, whether it was crime, politics, schools or other matters.

The lone competition we have is the Canarsie Digest, one of several papers in the Courier-Life chain, owned by the same company that publishes the New York Post. However, week-to-week when you read the Digest, Canarsie stories are few and far between. As the letter critic noted, the Digest is now free, probably because few people bought it, so some management person probably decided people might be more likely to pick it up if they didn’t have to lay down four bits every week, thereby claiming a wider, but unconfirmed, circulation.

And if the disgruntled writer ever looked at the Daily News’ “expanded Brooklyn section,” it rarely runs more than one or two pages. Guess that daily tabloid can’t find enough news in Brooklyn that’s fit to print.

We welcome letters, as well as readers’ suggestions about what they think is worthy of coverage. PLEASE let us know and, if deemed worthwhile by editors with over 50 years of experience, we’ll pursue the story.

Furthermore, despite the letter writer’s sarcasm, we are still looking for the original copy of the first Courier, published in April 1921.

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First article in a while that

First article in a while that I can agree a liberal tree hugging Mr. Friedman...Well said...
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