By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
An out of state friend and subscriber to the Ledger asked me, “Are there any normal people in LeFlore County?”
I answered, “Tons of ‘em,” and requested clarification of her question.
She pointed out, all the characters in my Briar Circle column and “Chili Dog” in our beloved Editor’s Little Ledger seem to occupy a lot of space. She pointed out the full page given to Court Records, and asked if there was anybody in the county who hadn’t been arrested and put in jail. She pointed out certain other “opinion” sections of the paper, and referenced certain past letters to the Editor, and other news of shaky doings in our little town.
Realistically, I could not deny the agitating content. However, I could explain the three or four percent rule, and endeavored to do so.
Really, it’s quite simple. If a dog bites a homo sapiens, it isn’t news unless the injuries are exceptional. If a man bites a dog—well, that’s news. Imagine the dialogue in the news item, “Well, crazy cousin Lem bit a dog th’ other day, an’ th’ injuries was so severe that th’ dog had to be put down. I wished they’d of put Lem down, instead, but they didn’t. I reckon he’ll be biting another dog before long. An’ maybe they’ll do somethin’ about the ol’ fool then.”
Now, this would be news. It would not change your life, much, though. You would still have to go to work the next day, get the kids ready for school, change the auto oil, brush your teeth, and other routines that constitute life; but the interest factor is, “Wow! An idiot bit a dog!” So he did. However, your day to day life doesn’t change much, unless the person lives next door and you have a dog. My friend understood.
You see, when it comes to naming names, “News” generally involves only a small percentage of the populace. Of course there are those things that concern everybody: Weather, local disasters, politics, burn-bans, best places to eat, who hopes to get elected for what, downtown development, and so on and on and on—and I believe the Ledger serves the community well in this regard. But what do you look for first?
Naturally, for every new online edition, I look first at the front page headlines; then, I look for my column to see whether or not I’ve been fired; next, Craig’s Little Ledger. Then, I always go to the “Tip of the Hat” item, because I like it when good people are acknowledged for doing good things. That could fill a whole page for the people of Heavener and LeFlore County.
But for most of the people in Heavener and the county—well, doing good, living well, fending for yourself, doing your job, living and sustaining your family—it’s all just routine. It’s the norm. You don’t need to be in the news, you don’t want to be in the news. But all the same, you are vital to us.
You are informed (I hope because you subscribe to the Ledger). You are involved with the PTA, your church, your job, your family and friends. You vote, you stand for the National Anthem, you put your hand over your heart when you say the Pledge of Allegiance.
And when your name is the news—well, it’s the sadness of an obituary, or the joy of a wedding, a graduation, a birth announcement, the humor of a “letter to Santa,” notice of a family reunion. This sort of news may not garner the attention of a major crimes and offenses, but that’s good. If there are no murders, robberies, thefts, rapes, etc., to report in Heavener, it’s because our worthy citizens are decent people.
And, for the larger percentage, so what if the paper is filled with advice on gardening, saving money, the successes of local students, and all that sort of thing? That is good news. If you want the smaller percentage, go to any looney bin in America—Hollywood, Government, reality TV, etc.—you’ll get more than you need, and good luck with it, too.
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