By Tom Henry | as published in the July 29, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News
“Good journalism should challenge people, not just mindlessly amuse them,” Carl Bernstein.
“99 percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses,” George Washington Carver.
This week I have learned a lot about myself. I had four teeth pulled the other day and despite being medicated, I attempted to retype and post my Wednesday column online on Thursday. That was a colossal mistake because it contained numerous grammatical and typographical errors. I promise I will not do that again. I wouldn’t want people to think me an uneducated, non-credible writer. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
I also learned that when you point out failures with your local school, you have to be prepared to stand alone and face the wrath of people that love the status quo more than success or improvement.
I have always taken my job as a journalist very seriously and I am all about forcing the community to confront things that hold our community back. Difficult issues such as corruption, incompetence, illegal activity, injustice, waste of public money, inhumane treatment of prisoners, neglect of cemeteries, and abysmally low test scores. I am far more interested in righting a wrong than I am in avoiding giving the school district a metaphorical black eye.
I have also learned that I care too much and that perhaps I should just go along to get along – doing public relations feel good pieces instead of journalism.
I have asked myself why do I put myself out on the line and face such risks with my columns. I had to evaluate whether I am making a difference or whether I should write about things of a more warm and fuzzy nature – entertaining and emotional rather than challenging and serious.
I still do not know the answer to that question.
Status quo is a very difficult thing to change, whether it lies at the school house, city hall or the courthouse. But people never change until they feel the need to change! Some things change not.
I have boldly spoken out against wrongs the entire time that I have been with the paper.
I feel extremely discouraged at this point because perhaps I just need to quit writing about these things. The crooks are still being crooks, the wasteful politicians are still wasting, the jail still has mold (from what I have been told), the school is still failing and defending its right to fail…so what is the point?
I have been a hero to those that cheer me while remaining in the private shadows, but I am also the antichrist to those that have been publicly outspoken.
Blytheville, I have given more than my share of sweat equity – it is time for YOU to do something different. It is time for YOU to demand changes. Otherwise you are accomplices.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you have always gotten.”
Check back again next week and we’ll see where this column goes from here.