Wednesday November 26, 2014

The art of apology


Dear Editor

It has been almost a year since I first thought about writing this letter, which was intended to be a thank you letter. I’d thought about writing even before the publisher and staff apologized for an item, not intended to be offensive, which offended some readers.

I read the apology and I was impressed. “Classy,” I thought, “people who can apologize.”

At one time storekeepers would say, “The customer is always right.” (Come to think of it, I haven’t heard any storekeeper say that for a long time.)

People who read newspapers, write letters to newspapers and pay for advertisements, these are customers.

Some years ago the News-Optimist made an error in a letter written by me. I pointed out the error and it was corrected.

There are newspapers today that can butcher a letter or anything else in ways not once imagined, but they have a policy of no corrections, no apologies, put up and shut up — the customer is always wrong.

Many years ago, I was writing for a magazine known for its precision even though the editor and staff were what would be called amateurs. One article was returned by the editor. He told me it was too long and made a number of suggestions.

For a while, I self-importantly huffed and pouted, then realized he was right. I boiled the article down, tightened it up and retyped it. It was published in the improved form, thanks to that person’s intervention.

Not long after, I attended a meeting at which that editor was present and I was able to thank him for helping me learn. I needed that lesson.

The News-Optimist/Regional Optimist staff might huff and puff in private for all I know, but they handle criticism in the newspaper with maturity.

Every so often we read where these publications have earned awards.

Christine Pike




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