I wrote this letter as a way of expressing my frustration at the callous approach that the Editor(s) of the Mendocino County Ob****er display to the people who generously donate their work, in an effort to better keep our community informed. I would love to discuss the matter with them, but they are reticent to explain sufficiently in person.
That About Wraps it
An open letter to the Editor of the Mendocino County Ob****er,
What we have here, is a failure to communicate, and I would like to resolve this situation, once and for all. I feel there is a hidden agenda, about which I know nothing. I offer to you, a commodity which is generally appreciated by editors: something to put in your paper. If you want to publish my stuff, then I think a few concessions are in order. If you do not, then that makes life simpler for me, so it’s a win-win situation.
I have been contributing my work to the Ob****er for a while now, though I get no compensation from you. I do not assume that my work helps sell newspapers, because I have no evidence to that effect, but by the same token, I do not assume that my work discourages sales, either. The only thing I do know, is that people seem to want to mention to me, that this piece of writing, or that, really meant something special to them. I do not solicit opinions on my work.
I asked on December 18th, in an email to the Editor of the Ob****er (it is still unclear who that is) that my name be added to the list of contributors. The list seemed a little outdated, since many of my favorite contributors were not represented, and Jon Spitz’s name was still included, even though he had publicly declared that he was giving his articles a rest. I thought maybe all of the contributors’ names might be included, and I suggested as much. The person who responded wrote,
“For starters you can change your subject line from ‘Letter to the Editor’ to ‘OpEd-O'Neill.’ As to ‘contributor’ watch for your name on page two box, left side bottom. The Irish editor decides who has the high honors.”
Was it meant as a mean trick? I honestly do not know. Why would this message be sent to me, if there was to be no follow-up? What this situation produced in me, was annoyance. What had been simply a whim before, became more pressing. I think it became more important for one reason only. Why shouldn’t my name be listed as a contributor? I work to create my pieces of writing. I do it in addition to my employment. And the bottom line is, it doesn’t cost you a plugged nickel. Your eventual response to me, that there were just too many contributors to list them all, is ludicrous.
I must assume that you like my work. When I submitted the piece on Jamal, you told me it was “beautifully written,” and when I gave you the piece on Pam, you said, “I love it.” If you do not think my work is any good, why would you tell me it was? And if it is good, why will you not acknowledge that, by listing my name as a contributor?
I began a blog last July, and have posted on it daily since then. I have 28 followers," with more joining every day. Now my readership is hitting 100 page-views per day. Guess what? I need the Ob****er, like I need a drum stick shoved up my nose.* It gave me some sense of satisfaction to show my former students that I could put words together on paper, just as I asked them to do, for so many years. But now they have seen that, so I no longer care.
And I think that all contributors should be acknowledged. I do not care about listing the Ukiah Journal as a contributor, or those police reports, but the local people who contribute their work, should be acknowledged. After all, they do not get paid either, so why shouldn’t they have recognition?
Twice now, I have attempted to keep the community informed about the upcoming court appearance, that takes place on the 1st of March, and twice it has not appeared. The first time I said, whatever. I know it must be terribly challenging to put out one edition, one day a week, but come on, people. The second time it occurred, was unconscionable. I will not continue to look like a buffoon. I am committed to keeping the community informed, but you are defeating my attempts. Of course I can post the information on-line, but not everyone has access to the internet, so I wanted to include this information in your periodical.
So now on consecutive occasions, I have been made to appear inept. First, before I would ever consider submitting something again, I would need a public explanation, that included you taking responsibility for being incapable for pulling off the publication of the Ob****er, without botching it. Use whatever words you like, but remove the cloak of incompetence from my shoulders, and don it yourself.
Next, while on the subject of what it would take to convince me that I should continue to submit my work, I may as well bring up that I do want those names listed as contributors, once again. That would be a must. No possible way to ignore this stipulation. It is bogus to suggest there are too many. Add another page to the paper.
Thirdly, I think you should give serious consideration to how much money the Ob****er would like to donate to Kaiden’s college fund. If there is not a college fund for Kaiden, then maybe you could initiate it. Think very carefully how much you wish to contribute, because this is important. Too little would be an insult. Too much would be acceptable. And may I add, that this gesture on your part will be viewed as very generous, so you may thank me in advance?
That about wraps it up. Only you know whether or not my essays help sell papers, and since I don’t care, the ball is in your court. Let me know when all three of these stipulations have been carried out, and then I may consider re-evaluating my opinion. I did not say I would capitulate, only that I would consider re-evaluating things. Meanwhile, as I said the other morning on Facebook, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to send something your way; it could be hazardous to your health.
* I stole that line from the film, "Some Kind of Wonderful."