Words are powerful

Published 4:07 pm Friday, January 1, 2010

The other day, while at Mable Clair Smith’s 98th birthday party, I mingled with people at the event.

I’ve now grown accustomed to people recognizing me as the “new reporter” with the paper, but I was caught off-guard, in a good way, when one woman came up to me. Instead of shaking my hand and telling me how she has read my stories, she hugged me. It was a pleasant surprise. I had never met this woman, but through my reporting and columns, she felt close enough to me to hug me. Maybe a little bit of Southern hospitality had something to do with it too.

I know people read the stories I write, but I think sometimes I forget the places my words end up. You may be reading this paper at your kitchen table with breakfast, in the office, or at lunch at a restaurant.

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Sitting in front of a computer in the newsroom feels so far away from wherever you are reading this paper now.

Sometimes I am tempted to proclaim to people holding a newspaper in the grocery line that I’m a reporter.

Although my photo accompanies this column, any other appearance in the paper is just words. I still get excited seeing my name in print and like sharing that excitement with other people.

I still haven’t said anything while waiting in line, but the thought crosses my mind often.

With so many people reading and commenting, either online, over the phone or to me in person, this town holds me 100 percent accountable in my reporting.

This all-encompassing accountability means that when mishaps occur, which they will every so often, I am informed of these errors.

I ask that people please remember that here in the newsroom, we are human too.

Voice your concerns any day to us, but remember to use respect and courtesy when speaking with us because that is what we will offer to you.

Even though many people may not read the words you speak, they’re words nonetheless, and all our words are powerful.