Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chief Wahoo commentary sparks feedback

From all I’ve seen and heard over the past week, last Sunday’s essay was pure gold.
Everywhere I went, from a pancake breakfast at the beautiful Community Center in Willoughby Hills (thanks, Mort and Flo O’Ryan, for getting it built) to a plethora of luncheon meetings throughout the week, I got a solid “thumbs up” for coming to the defense of the Indians’ Chief Wahoo and for exposing political correctness for the sham that it is.
Translation: People (at least the people who read this column) have a love affair with Wahoo, and they share my disdain for the disease that infests much of far-left America and masquerades as political correctness.
So I suppose if I were a really clever fellow I could just re-run that same column every Sunday and be regarded as a genius.
Problem is, most of my readers are also geniuses, so after a few months they would see through that ruse for what it is – a limp excuse for filling the space every Sunday with the same thing over and over until the message lost its freshness, not to mention its urgency.
So let us just say that Chief Wahoo will live on in our minds and hearts, and let’s move on.
But first let me say that the briefest reply I received in response to the message about the Chief was a single word.
It came from Ken Krsolovic. It said, merely, “Amen.”
Interestingly, one of the lengthiest responses didn’t deal with Wahoo at all, but rather with my introduction to the topic when I pointed out that as an eighth-grader I delivered The News-Herald to a number of families in North Willoughby who lived on streets with Indian names.
I noted that, at that time, the newspaper was published only on Tuesday and Friday. That prompted Bill Behnke to send a lengthy email about serving in the U.S. Navy at the time and getting mail only once every six months.
Since he received a half-year’s supply of News-Heralds at a time, he was somewhat pleased that the paper had not yet begun to publish daily.
He was caring enough of his shipmates’ hunger for news that he shared the papers with them. One of the first he opened bore the headline, “No Garbage Collection Thursday.”
Bill said he took some good-natured ribbing from the crew, but regretted not saving that issue.
Trivia question: Name two people whose 90th birthday parties the lady of the house and I attended over the past few weeks.
Why, they were those of Bill Behnke and Bob Meil. But I digress.
The other thing I must tell you about today is in regard to Ted Diadiun. I hired Ted as a sportswriter at The News-Herald a generation or so ago. We share several things in common. Here are a few:
We have played poker in my dining room into the wee hours. We both love baseball. We were both inducted into the Press Club of Cleveland’s Hall of Fame on the same evening a couple of years ago. And we both write Sunday columns – his in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and mine, of course, which you are now reading.
His last two columns were so good that I was going to call and tell him so. But I often don’t get around to doing what I plan to do.
Two weeks ago he wrote that journalism contests are a joke and should be shunned by serious newspaper people. I thoroughly agree.
Last week he spoke of the right of readers to speak out on topics that interest them, but he alluded to people who don’t sign their messages as morons.
He may not have used the word “morons,” but I’m using it here.
Which brings us to the present tense. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Dick Swain, a good friend who had been the judge of Mentor Municipal Court for many years and who died rather suddenly.
I received a lot of very nice compliments about the column – from mutual friends, fellow Gyro Club members and countless community leaders, not to mention words of appreciation from his widow, Susan.
Well, didn’t I get a nasty letter (through the U.S. Mail) from someone who wrote, “Shame on you for your editorial about Dick Swain.”
(Journalism Lesson No. 1: It wasn’t an editorial. It was a column. There is a large difference.)
The writer chastised me for not mentioning his first wife, Sandy, and his children. Well, I was not attempting to write a biography of an old friend. I was merely trying to recall a few highlights in a life well-lived. If I wanted to write everything I knew about Dick it would have taken pages and pages.
So to anyone who thought I wasn’t all-inclusive enough, I apologize.
But guess what? The letter wasn’t signed. It wasn’t written by someone who was proud to attach his name to his thoughts. It was written by a gutless wonder.
And do you know what I think of gutless wonders? The same thing Ted thinks of them.
I may have a strong opinion about such lugs, but I never get mad at them. I have more important things to get mad about.



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