One of the greatest freedoms our nation has is freedom of the press. This freedom comes with responsibility. Responsibility to report the news accurately, and not slant the news. As a local reporter, I'll take my place at the front of the line for not always getting everything exactly right. I guess it's the human factor. If it's not a typo, it's not grammatically perfect, if not grammatically perfect, then there's an inaccuracy as to what actually happened. With these imperfections comes criticism. I understand AND I appreciate the criticism. I know that it just comes with the job of being a reporter.
I'm glad to say that most people that I run into in my daily life appreciate the efforts of PolkCountyToday.com for keeping the county informed of the local news and happenings. There are those, however, that's going to hate me, and PolkCountyToday.com no matter what we publish. I've had people call me on my cell phone and cuss me out, I've had death threats, I've gotten letters from lawyers that people have sicked on me, one time somebody complained to the Texas Ranger about me. I guess that's just the way it is.
When we report a story, whether it's an automobile accident, a house fire, a trial, a drug bust or whatever, we don't play favorites. When I arrive on the scene of an accident, I detach my emotions, take my camera and do my job. I don't care what color the person is, I don't care what their political views are, religion, social status, or prominence in Polk County. The pictures I take are legal and no laws are being broken. Some may be offended by my stories and/or the pictures, but as everyone knows, if there's anything questionable, there's always a massive disclaimer warning you that if you're offended, don't scroll down the page. I doubt that anybody is holding a gun to anyone's head forcing them to look at pictures of somebody on a gurney. The pictures we publish are mild compared to other popular news outlets. Does anyone here ever watch local Houston news?
Let's get back to detached emotions... As a reporter who covers bad things, if I let my natural emotions come into play, I'd be a basket case worse than I already am (if that makes any sense). If I got emotional at these tragic scenes, I wouldn't be able to do my job and bring the news. If you're offended by the reporting of PolkCountyToday.com, please remember, we didn't make that person deal drugs, we didn't start any house fires, we didn't plant alcohol in a vehicle and force the crash. Please, don't be mad at me if somebody you know or perhaps your son or daughter made a bad decision and found themselves on the wrong side of the law or in a bad situation and we're there to report it.
When something happens people will know... When something happens, people will know. Often, things can get misconstrued and much of what gets spread is nothing more than hear say as rumors will inevitably spin out of control and will be so inaccurate that they're not even remotely close to the truth. That's the advantage of PolkCountyToday.com. We will report the facts, and while the human factor will come into play and errors will happen, please understand we're doing our best. Errors happen all the time in reporting even with the biggest news sources (USAToday, Newsweek, Time, etc.).
Information... The information we publish is public information. Our website is a free public service. You don't have to pay a dime for the news, you don't have to get ink on your fingers, you don't have to have old newspapers stacking up in the pantry or scattered on the kitchen table or sofa. The news is up-to-date and is brought to you in a timely manner. When you're finished reading, just click the X at the top of your page and we'll even go away.
Lastly... I do feel bad when someone's house burns down or somebody is killed in a car accident. I feel bad when someone's son or daughter gets in trouble with the law, BUT, I'm going to do my job. Please don't get offended when I do my job. If you think you might be offended, click the X. I love Polk County. I love Livingston. Polk County is my home and PolkCountyToday.com is here to stay. We're not perfect, but we're trying. If you feel you need to unload on PolkCountyToday.com for the public to read, fill out the little thing at the bottom of this page and we'll publish it (remember, we screen for cuss words, so keep it clean). By the same token, we welcome any words of support :)
Willie P. Openshaw, Editor
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