First and foremost, if you've made it this far, you are one of four things: A subscriber to the print version of the Echo Press newspaper, an online subscriber, an online registered reader or all of the above. From the bottom of my heart; thank you. It's because of you that I get to live out my dream job.
That said, a few months ago, I started monitoring the comments on our Facebook page. While many of our readers are there to engage with one another in a healthy way, there are always outliers. They are loud and proud.
While I can turn a blind eye to people exhausting themselves on the internet for 18 hours a day, I think it's time to address some of the misconceptions that are commonly vocalized in our Facebook comments.
Let's start with an easy one: Our paper is not free, nor should it be. Imagine me walking into a store to grab some groceries or essential items and walking out with a cart full of things without paying. The manager comes up to me and confronts me for stealing only to get the response, "Sir, this should be free because of the coronavirus."
I am allowed to go into the grocery store and taste the free samples, but why would anybody expect me to take the things I need for free? I mean, after all, they are a living, breathing business and they need our support more than ever. Guess what? So do we.
I love my job, but if our paper didn't make money, there is no paper. And while some of the Facebook commenters would like to see us burn down in flames, I know some people appreciate their local newspaper.
Another interesting thing I realized while keeping an eye on the Facebook comments is I didn't know that Douglas County had hundreds of people with medical doctorates specializing in pandemic research. Wow!
Every day I see new comments from people pretending like they know what's actually going to happen in the coming months. They read a clickbait story from their favorite political blogger saying that we should shut down for another five years, or we never should've shut down in the first place. Most of the time, it's in response to the information we publish.
We aren't claiming to be experts. We are reporting credible information given to us from credible health agencies. No, we don't know how many people have been tested or how many people have recovered because we aren't privy to that information. But we aren't lying, and we aren't trying to perpetuate fear as part of a government conspiracy. We are just trying to do our job the best we can.
Another misconception that I see way more than I should is the difference between an article and a letter to the editor. Here's a fun fact: not everything in the Echo Press is written by our editorial staff! You, the reader, are allowed to write in a letter to the editor and have it published on our Opinion page. In fact, this is the case for most papers.
The next time you want to flame the author for a belief that doesn't align with yours, look to see if it says "Letter" at the beginning of the headline before you comment, "How dare the Echo Press publish this story. I am never reading it again."
And last but not least, your comments aren't changing anyone's political beliefs. This isn't a misconception, but rather a misunderstanding, and a baffling one.
It's 2020, and everybody has a valid reason for where they align politically. I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat or an alien. Arguing calluses into your fingers with somebody who doesn't see eye-to-eye with your political beliefs isn't going to change their mind. You are wasting your time. Safely go outside.
In all honesty, I will never get offended when reading the comments on our Facebook page. I love Douglas County and the people that live here. However, if you feel the need to threaten or berate another person, your comment will get deleted, and I'll do it with a smile on my face. Happy commenting.