I was slow tending to the email here — although I answered most of these personally already. And a few emails for March and April were handled in earlier posts.
Here’s a sample of what’s left from the items readers send in.
About that Elon poll …
Got this one from Warren Pegram — among the last batch for April. Mr. Pegram is a regular letter-writer and a member of our Reader Advisory Board.
He’s got bug about the Elon poll — largely how it’s conducted.
“As one of your LTEs recently pointed out, Elon couches their question so to direct the desired result. As I had concerns about Elon ‘polling’ students, any poll they do appears to be more ‘mind-bending’ than proper statistics.
“If you want the Times-News from falling into the ‘entertainment’ variety of media aka Chris Matthews description, you must require Elon to provide you with at least the actual question they polled. Preferably, you’d get the sampling plan too; i.e. the calls distributed among the area by precinct. I’ll bet they are nowhere near accurate representation of the voter pool.”
MY TAKE: We regularly state in stories that Elon’s poll is not conducted among registered or likely voters. So there is no precinct map. It’s pretty much cold calling via land lines and cell phones. It’s one of the few polls out there using cells — but will eventually follow. One day, there will be no landlines. Simply a fact of life.
Otherwise, the folks at Elon pretty much provide a lot of the information Mr. Pegram describes. Every poll that comes to the media comes with an attachment describing how the polls are conducted.
Caution when taking photos
Here’s one from our friend Susan Holland, who works with the Times-News frequently on any number of projects. She had an observation shared by others.
“To my friends at the Times-News:
“While I LOVED your photo of kids playing outside in the fresh air (no electronics required!), I remain concerned about promoting that it’s fun and cool to ride without a helmet — particularly while catching air. Yes, I’ve beat this drum before, but it remains high on my list of personal soapboxes. While these children were on private land, they would have been breaking state law, if they were riding without helmets on a public right of way.
“Thanks to your fabulous NIE program, the Times-News is in the hands of many local students. I implore you to consider omitting images, such as this one, that sanction (perhaps even encourage) such risky behavior in our impressionable children.”
MY TAKE: We hear from readers often about photos of children at play. Sometimes it’s about proximity to lawn mowers — especially when parents allow their kids to ride with them on lawn tractors. Other topics include kids riding bikes without helmets, walking on railroad tracks or skateboarding in high-traffic areas.
It’s not our goal to promote unsafe behavior but it’s also not our idea to avoid it either. Our photographers take pictures of things they see in the community. If it’s a risky behavior, perhaps it might generate discussion for parents and their kids and a move to more safe ways of playing.
And we do take the suggestions of readers on this matter. A recent Monday graphic on our Region page was sparked by a call from Ann Hobgood about kids being allowed to play near lawn mowers. Many in our community remember the tragic case of Mason Lumley, a child involved in a lawn-mower related incident. It’s something we always think about.
Thank you notes always appreciated
Our lifestyles editor Charity Apple Pierce received this nice note form Martha Hamblin, an artist featured in a recent Times-News story.
“It was a pleasure to see you and Sam at Jill’s house. Thanks so much for the lovely article you did about our art show benefitting Loaves & Fishes. I’m sure they will benefit much more as a result of your piece. As always, you did a terrific job, and we appreciate it!
“You probably don’t remember coming to our house about 15 years ago to interview my husband, John Powell. He had published a thriller, The Nostradamus Prophecy, and you wrote a great feature about it. At the time I was struck by your relaxed and very competent interviewing style. You’ve honed that to an even finer degree—if that’s possible—and do an excellent job.
MY TAKE: Charity passed this along to me and I’m glad she did. It always makes my day. I’m positive it made hers.
A walk down memory lane
Got this from Mike Newsome after my column this past weekend about former Times-News staff members and where they are these days. Mike remembered Jo Craven — now known as Jo Craven McGinty.
“Your article in Sunday’s paper brought back memories of Jo (then Craven). In the late 80s while working at the Times-News Jo for a time rented a room from my then-girlfriend Paula. Jo was dating a guy going to Elon College, Randy was his name I think. The four of us would occasionally do things together, and that year Jo and Paula decided it would be a great idea for all of us to hike to the top of Grandfather Mountain on New Year’s Day, have a picnic, then drive back home. On the hike up we saw rime, which is fog frozen on above-ground surfaces, so you can guess what the temperature was like. We had a nice time but on the way back it started raining and the wipers on Paula’s car started going in and out, then out altogether. I rigged up a cord tied to one wiper, thru the back window (this was a station wagon), out the other window, then tied to the other wiper. Randy would pull one way then Jo pulled the other. It worked like a charm but you should have seen the stares and laughs we got driving down I-40. Jo wrote an article about our adventure and one of the artists even had an “artist’s rendition” of the car included.
“Thanks for the memories,
“p.s I used to teach karate back then thru the Parks and Recreation Dept. and Jo was one of my students”
MY TAKE: This is one of my favorite notes of recent vintage. Nice to be able to return readers to a place they recall with fondness. And it’s another reminder of how great a person Jo is. That’s one reason I like to update people on the whereabouts of former newspaper staffers. All or most lived here for a time and touched the lives of others along the way.
I did have one reader who called and took me to task for not mentioning our longtime and now retired photographer Jack Sink. I’m afraid he missed the point of the column. Jack still lives here and we write about him frequently. He’s still making quite a mark in the community — one we’re likely to note during our 125th anniversary celebration.
Reflecting upon Webster
Had a lot of verbal response to my column in March about the statement made by Alamance County Register of Deeds Hugh Webster at the county GOP convention — the one where he used the “R” word to describe state judges.
Here’s one of three emails I received about it. Two became letters to the editor.
“I agree 100% with your opinion of Hugh Webster! I am ashamed of him in many ways. He is a poor representation of the real people of Alamance County and of the Republican Party. To be honest, I just feel sorry for the man. Where is his pride for his position, his party, his county and his family? I have a lot of opinions on things but have learned that we should keep certain things to ourselves and when we do share them to be as kind as possible if they are negative. Someone can be hurt by remarks that come out of your mouth before they go through your head. I understand that was the case the night of his remarks. People were hurt and I personally am sorry for that. But the real hurt is that the man has no remorse for anything he says or does. I’m proud of the Republican Party. (But) If there were giggles and snickers in the crowd there the night Mr. Webster made his comments then shame on all of you also.
“Without the Republican Party sticking together and working together to improve the party, we have no chance to change the situation we are in or to change our future. Please be careful what you say and do that puts our party in a bad light. One bad apple need not spoil the whole party!”
MY TAKE: Like Ali-Foreman — there’s no need to throw the last punch.
The giving soul
Eddie Hall of Graham weighed in after my latest column about an anonymous “friend” who sends money to people in need through me. Here’s what Mr. Hall had to say.
“What wonderful and generous individual, to give of his resources to those in real need! Because of his concern, compassion, and love for those he does not even know, states that he is a real HERO among us! Yes, he makes me too, proud to be an Alamance County citizen! To Mr. Taylor’s mysterious friend: Thanks for making a difference, and if you don’t mine, may I call you, my friend too!”
MY TAKE: I agree wholeheartedly.
Our battles with English
Getting this kind of message doesn’t make my day — but I am glad readers will take the time to do it.
“We need all the help we can get from the Times-News regarding our grammar. One headline and one sub-headline each contained the misuse of the word “on.” The front page top headline stated, “Company still waiting on Army contract.” The front page of the second section included the sub-heading, (Elon) “Town had to wait on approval from railroad company.” We do not wait “on”, we wait “for”. The contract and the approval could collapse under the weight of the respective company and town. Please pass the word along to the staff.
MY TAKE: Every time I hear from a reader on a subject such as this one, I learn something. In the newspaper business, we have many different specialities. Grammar was never one of mine — but I try to get better every day.