04-06-2017 Letters and Commentary

NO FAKE NEWS HERE… Not infrequently, someone will comment to me, “Here’s some news to fill up space in your paper.”

Invariably I reply I never have empty space in the paper. The opposite is true… there is always more news than I (we) have space to fit. The tough choice is what is printed and what gets held out for print the next issue.

If anything “kills” a news item, it is incomplete or erroneous information. Occasionally folks copy a story from another source and forward it to us. Others send in copy that needs verification and we can’t verify its accuracy or veracity. I coined a phrase, 40 years ago while checking reporters’ copy, “when in doubt, leave it out.”

The news copy that gets the publishing approval, first and foremost, is the copy generated by our own reporters. They are writing about events they witnessed or interviewing people who have first hand (and reliable) information that needs to be published.

While there is a lot of discussion in the media about so-called fake news, I’m pleased to report there has been none of that here. The Record has reliable reporters that generate 90% of the news copy on these pages. The rest is provided by reliable public relations and press office professionals who are held to high standards of objectivity, integrity, and accuracy.

In the rare occurrence when a writer deliberately misinforms the public and media, they are soon unemployed. In the rare time there is misinformation or a genuine error published, the professional media immediately takes steps to make the correction.

I’m proud the Record has a great history of integrity and objectivity. When that pesky gremlin causes the typo or error, I’m the first one to point it out and make amends.

My other editing guideline, mistakes can happen but only once.

What’s sadly lacking in much of the “social media news” is any responsibly or control over the irresponsible dissemination of obvious salacious gossip and the deliberate manufacturing of false news to incite controversy and gain attention.

Creating another category of demented, immoral, and hateful news is those bent of venting hurtful comment on (former) friends and family. It is hard to imagine any sort of reconciliation following a spiteful comment made by some person spewing filthy and hateful words fueled by anger, pain, drugs, alcohol, or insanity.

SORRY FOR THE SNOW… In a spurt of spring fever frenzy, Sunday, I got the lawn tractor out and put the snow thrower away. I also picked up yard trash and other winter debris… In the back of my mind, I was dreaming of a warm Thursday when I might call my fishing buddy Bob and hit Paw Paw Lake for some spring bass.

When I collapsed in my recliner, later, I caught a local weather forecast that promised a rainy week with some sleet and snow on Thursday. I should have known.

Each occasional balmy day the last half of March, I began getting my boat ready for spring fishing. Each following day seemed a relapse to winter. I hope this is the end of it. Channel 22 weather is promising 70 degrees and sunshine Sunday. I think I have a plan for that afternoon.

Meanwhile the torrential down pours occurring over the past few weeks have accounted for soggy yards and fields. The National Weather service maintains a flood measuring station on the Paw Paw River at Riverside. The most recent graph shows near flood levels of water at 9.38 feet on March 31. According to their calculations, the flood level is at 11 feet. I have my own flood level meter at the Papermill Monument near Hays Park in Watervliet. When water “puddles” in the old millpond (now just a low spot behind the monument) I know the river is rising. When the water forms a “lake” that extends from the river to the monument, the river is near flood. When the water floods the entire old millpond and spills over to the ball fields in Hays Park, the river is at flood.

Back to the official records for the river at Riverside… The recent high 11.24 feet occurred on September 18, 2008. That was probably the time Hays Park was nearly completely underwater and I got pictures of kayakers paddling across the ball fields. The recent low water record 3.53 feet on September 8, 2000. July 5, 1964 is also listed at 2.66 feet that must have been one dry summer.

As of Tuesday morning, following the heavy rains overnight, the slowly falling water levels in the river measured at the Riverside meter, began to rise slightly above 9 feet.