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Sherman Says: Writing a newspaper column gets new friends each week

SPRINGVILLE — It has been a great year to write a weekly newspaper column. I can draw from toolboxes full of sarcasm, sadness, controversy and head-shaking doubt. It’s never dull.

Part of that enjoyment comes from you, the readers, who often take the time to write notes, send emails or pick up the telephone. The presidential election was a particularly rich opportunity.

“Why is it that I have yet to hear a cogent argument from a Romney proponent that can tell us why Romney/Ryan is the better ticket?” wrote one reader. “The editor’s endorsement was hollow and shrill. If you support a candidate, plainly state why. Merely pointing out the shortcomings of the other ticket is simply weak.”

Another reader wrote, “Your editorial last week, angered me so much that I feel the need to write you. I believe in freedom of the press, [but] I feel the need to discontinue my subscription because of your column. I really do not care who you vote for, in this election. I just don’t care to read your opinions anymore!”

One man said, “In my opinion, you should stick to topics directly affecting the local area.” The late speaker of the house Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”

I wrote a column about my views on the use of drones in combat and noncombat missions. I was inspired to do so after reading two, one-sided, two-page anti-drone commentaries in The Buffalo News. An email I received did not share my opposing viewpoint.

“If the missions are secretive, how would you know if they are worthwhile? Your arguments for secrecy seem to lean more toward a totalitarian military empire than a flourishing democracy. I find your use of the term ‘worthwhile’ appalling. Some sources indicate perhaps up to 10 percent of lives lost are innocent lives. This is worthwhile? Maybe your title could be ‘Drone missions may kill innocent lives, but the results are worthwhile.’”

If one fewer American dies in combat because of intelligence provided by a drone, these missions will have proved their value.

I receive some positive feedback, as well. Jeff Sammut from Sportsnet 590 THE FAN in Toronto did a live interview with me, after I praised Terry Pegula’s plan for the Webster Block. It took place at 12:30 a.m., but I’m sure our northern neighbors enjoyed it.

Following the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong, former Lancaster Town Supervisor Stan Keysa joined my walk down memory lane.

“I found Armstrong to be very pleasant; not at all arrogant or, as you called him, ‘the nice guy who finished first.’”

I was inspired to write about our modest vegetable garden, during the spring. The project reminded me of an late husband and wife team that was responsible for the old “Green Thumb” column.

“One of your readers sent my brother a copy of your piece on our parents, Doc and Katy. Wonderful! So full of warmth and appreciation for what they built. Thank you for such a lovely ‘read’ -- we all miss them a lot,” a reader wrote.

Justin Young said he liked my comments about school board members. “My hat is off to you and your poignant portrayal of the history, significance and relevance of our vote, this Tuesday. I, myself, running for the Depew School Board, feel that your article encapsulates the reason why I am running.”

Sadly, I also wrote about two senseless shootings, this year. One was in Aurora, Colo. The other was in Newtown, Conn. A reporter for the Newtown Bee newspaper read my column about her coworker Shannon Hicks, who took the now-famous photo of Sandy Hook Elementary students being led to safety.

“Thank you for what you wrote about the tragedy, David. You, like Shannon, are a fine reporter,” she wrote.

David Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.
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