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My turn to sound off
My turn to sound off

Well, as everyone in Liberty and Long counties gets a turn to vent in our anonymous Sound Off opinion feature, I figure it’s my turn. Especially since hard news correspondent, our lovable “Murder and Mayhem” Lewis Levine, called me, Bryan County News editor Jeff Whitten and Courier/BCN general manager Patty Leon at  1, 2 and 3 a.m. with breaking news several nights this week. We’re all bleary eyed but still determined to bring our readers up-to-date, online stories of escaped inmates, fatal accidents, death investigations and found explosives – and that was just ONE night. So, here goes:

“Why do some people repeatedly attempt to manipulate the news narrative just to promote their own, self-serving agendas? This is not in reference to non-profits or charitable institutions whose missions are to assist the community or reach a goal that benefits others. Those missions we try to promote.”

“I wish I could run honor rolls each and every week in the print paper, but we don’t always have available space. Especially when hard news stories like crime and fatal accidents break and must take priority. We also must fill our valuable space with advertising from our merchants and legal notices from our local governments. These ads help keep our doors open. Honestly, we DO try to run honor rolls as a courtesy to students, teachers, parents and guardians - when space permits.”

“All some folks can do is criticize, and never engage the individuals they should be talking to. Most of the kvetching (Yiddish for complaining) in the Sound Off is about the state of our schools. Will we look into a number of the allegations made? Of course. But, some of what we get is just whining. Talk to your child’s teachers, principals, administrators, school board members, state school officials, or an attorney. If you’re not happy, demand change. Write letters to the editor and own your opinion – sign your name. Go on record about alleged abuse. Stop hiding. The more of you who speak up to the right sources, the stronger a movement for change can become.”

“Sometimes I REALLY hate social media. Sure, we at the Courier have a Facebook page. Sure, we link our website stories to Facebook and rejoice in the thousands of likes we get per story. But – I’m a middle-aged grandmother. And, in my opinion, social media is making many of us behave badly. A lot of comments are plain stupid and mean. Do people still converse over coffee, without texting or checking their emails? Do people look one another in the eye, listen with empathy to the other person as they relay their life’s challenges?”

“I really, really, really HATE twitter – and people who rush to judge others. No one – but us underpaid, underappreciated journalists – seems to check facts anymore. Too many folks allow themselves to be gullible, ignorant of the truth and consumed with perceived slights. Where has reason gone? Where is common sense? People, monitor your sources. Please. Democracy is at stake. If anyone is under siege, it’s not the people in power. It’s us – the powerless.”

So, if you still want to kvetch, that’s your choice. Just understand, that sometimes a little thank you, a small gesture of gratitude, or a sincere compliment, can not only make someone’s day brighter, it might even change the course of a person’s life. Maybe, once a reader has cleared the air with a Sound Off, they could perform an act of kindness for someone in their lives. And ask that person to pay it forward.

Etheridge is the editor of the Coastal Courier. She and her husband have two grown children, the most beautiful granddaughter in the world, a teddy bear of a rescue dog, a grumpy old cat that guards the house, and a young agile cat that pesters the grumpy one.


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