Whatever my faults might be, I don’t think I am guilty of having a swelled head. More than 30 years of communicating with readers have kept my feet firmly anchored to the ground.
Being castigated from time to time by readers about mistakes that find their way into the paper, certainly demonstrate that I have much to be humble about.
A recent letter I have to mention. It ended this way: “In closing, when are you and your staff going to resign so that the management of Numismatic News can be turned over to competent journalists?”
This seemed a bit over the top in terms of punishment fitting the “crime.” What was my “crime”?
I had better use the plural here, “crimes,” because the letter writer also wanted me to know that he had not forgotten past transgressions.
The handwritten letter opens, “Oops, you with your college education and your staffers did it again. What a great year you are having.
“First, you inform us that Robert Kennedy was a President. You were growing up during this period of time? Right? Or were you absent from grade school the day you studied the U.S. Presidents?
“Then ‘Edwin’ Moy got by all of you. It is Edmund Moy? Right? He still needs to be replaced immediately. But you are still protecting your pal in Numismatic News.
“And now in the 12/1/09 issue of Numismatic News you have repeating of pages 5 through 16.
“Just what is going on in Iola? It is sad to see this fine numismatic publication decline in content, quality and quantity during your tenure.
“Just what do your Krause corporate fourth estate masters think of you and your staff’s performance of this past year? Feel free to share this letter at the next corporate board meeting that you attend.”
Since I have never attended a corporate board meeting and I never expect to, I will get the wheels rolling right away to get the writer a replacement Dec. 1 issue and I will extend his subscription by an issue to make up for the inconvenience.
What is gratifying is that this reader examines the paper closely and let’s me know what he is finding. He has written before and I expect he will write me again when there is another slip. He is not alone. I have always said that readers are the best proof readers. That isn’t an observation original to me. It was handed down to me by my predecessors.
Newspaper editors are a bit like baseball players. Batting averages tell the story. A player who makes .300, or hits 30 percent of the time safely, is a very good player. Newspaper editors’ averages need to be far higher, but by no means do they ever reach 1.000.
The day might come when I will not receive letters or e-mails of this kind. That will not mean I have reached perfection. What it will mean is that readers will have completely lost interest in Numismatic News.
Should that time ever come, then my corporate masters will expect to see the back of me. In the meantime, I will work to get better and expect to be here the next time he writes.