So tell me what you really think

Iíve decided to start my own little business venture in the new year. Iím still in the concept phase, mind you. But I hope youíll let me know what you think.

You see, my idea is to roll out an authentic Evening Sun voodoo doll. One of our former reporters, Mike McGuire, is now living in New Orleans and Iím hoping heíll be able to help me source them.

There will be one basic model, but Iíll have a full line of accessories available, so the dolls can be customized to represent each of the reporters and editors on staff. That way, people who purchase the doll can target their frustration appropriately.

Not sure which accessory pack to purchase? No problem. The basic doll will include an editorial assignment list, to allow for easy cross-referencing of coverage areas.

I plan to roll out a Jessica Lewis edition (which will no doubt be popular with the City of Norwich) as well as accessory packs for Tyler Murphy, Melissa deCordova, Sports Editor Pat Newell and a deluxe Jeff Genung edition. I wonít leave myself out. There will be a Melissa Stagnaro version, which Iím sure will sell quite well to members of the Oxford School Board. People will, of course, be encouraged to collect all six.

My motivation, of course, is to make it easier for people to give feedback on what they read in The Evening Sun. With the official voodoo doll in hand, readers will be able to express their feelings immediately rather than putting in the effort to write a lengthy letter to the editor, call our reader response line or post a comment to 30 Seconds online.

Being alternately loved and hated seems to come with the territory when you work at a newspaper, so I try not to take it personally. If everyone was happy with everything I wrote, Iíd know I wasnít doing my job. Iíd be doing a disservice to our readers if everything was sanitized.

I know when I write about certain topics that no matter how hard I try to be unbiased, it is going to elicit a response from one or both sides. In fact, it seems like the articles I take the most care wording are the ones that people see as the most controversial. But I see that as a success. When an article stirs up strong emotions, it means we are doing our jobs. We are providing the information, and readers are making their own decisions.

Sometimes itís something they just donít want to hear, and the ďshoot the messengerĒ instinct kicks in. But weíre not making the news, weíre just reporting on it.

I welcome the feedback I get. It means people are reading. And I take great care in making sure that I report facts accurately. If youíve got another side of the story, I want to hear it. Did I get something wrong? Tell me, so I donít make the mistake again.

Is it always easy? Absolutely not. Who honestly likes to be criticized? Iíve always been a little thin skinned, but Iím working on it. Thankfully I get some positive feedback on my reporting as well, so it helps balance things out.

Thereís no need to wait for the new voodoo doll to hit store shelves. Feel free to keep giving us feedback the old fashioned way. (phone calls, e-mails, comments on 30 Seconds, posts on the forum, letters to the editor ...)

And weíll keep doing our thing, which is providing our readers with accurate local news coverage on the topics that matter to them.

Ouch. Maybe my idea wasnít so original, after all. I just felt a sharp pain in my right foot. Oooh. My eye!

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