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Loving and Hating the Fort Wayne Reader
A year's worth of hate mail and fan letters
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
“When are you guys going to do a letters page?”
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard that over the past year. The answer has always been “soon.” Or, more accurately, “when we can catch up.”
Well, we never really did catch up. So, seeing as this issue marks the one year anniversary of the Fort Wayne Reader, we thought now would be a time to sort through some of the responses we’ve had.
And we’ve had some great responses. If we could distill what we’ve learned from these responses down to three main points, they’d be:
1.) People love to point out typos. Say what you will about the decline of general literacy in society, but there are times when I swear we’re living in a world full of copy-editors…
2.) One person’s “left wing media bias” is another person’s “mouthpiece of the establishment.” With two articles in particular — Iraq (issue #16) and the assault weapons ban (issue #22) — liberals and conservatives seemed to agree on one thing: we weren’t being fair and balanced when it came to their side of the story…
And finally, you seem to get it. Not that we didn’t think you would, but a lot of people told us we were nuts when we started the Fort Wayne Reader. But you seem to understand what we’re trying to do with the paper and where we’re attempting to go. We really appreciate all the comments, suggestions, and compliments we’ve received over the past year, and we thank you for picking up the paper.
(Of course, it hasn’t all been hosannas and raves. Some people just think we’re idiots. But at least they’re reading…)
A “letters page” will be a permanent feature of the Fort Wayne Reader from now on, so if you have something to say about one of our stories, please don’t hesitate to write it down and send it in, whether by e-mail or the regular kind. Most of the letters you’ll read here came via e-mail, and for the most part we haven’t published the person’s last name. The reason for this is that we assume most of the people didn’t know their comment would end up in print when they contacted us, so we played it safe. But in the future, it’s up to you. Just tell us how you want your name to appear and we’ll happily oblige.
Issue #1: “Behind the gun”
Re: “After the election…”
Thanks for the article on Linda Buskirk. She spoke very candidly to your paper, and I admire her for that. I hope we’ll see her return to public life sometime in the future.
— Lauren J.
Re: “After the election…”
Does Buskirk seriously think we believe her when she says she “likes the mayor?” If she likes him so much, then why did she run against him? Her campaign was mis-managed from the start.
— George A.
Issue #2: “Video Games”
I’m a married, educated woman in my 30s and I love video games. I’m glad someone locally is talking about this phenomenon. Thanks for the article.
— Lisa M.
Re: “The Office”
I was watching the Golden Globes Sunday night, and I’m thinking, “’The Office’? Ricky Gervais? Who the hell is this guy?” Then, just two days later, I pick up your paper and see your article about this hilarious show. I’m a huge fan of the show now. But one question: how do you know what happens in the Christmas specials when they haven’t come out here yet?
— Corey S.
(Trade secret. And the Christmas specials are available on DVD now. — eds.)
Issue #4: “Fort Wayne Filmakers”
I know you want to support local people doing interesting things, but your article on Fort Wayne filmmakers left me depressed. Lousy horror flicks. Is that all Fort Wayne has to offer? I’ve seen “The Spell of 13.” I’m betting the audience for it consists mainly of friends and family of the cast and crew. Otherwise, no one would sit through the whole thing. The only decent thing about it was the effects. The editing was terrible, the pacing slow, and the story full of clichés. I suppose it’s like the old saying about the talking dog; I guess the point is not that it’s done well, but that it’s done at all.
— Brian A.
To the author:
Mark Archer sounds like he has a pretty bad attitude. Considering “American Reel” was one of the worst movies I’ve seen, I don’t know if I’d take anything he has to say seriously.
— Carol D.
(Sorry if Archer came across like he had a bad attitude. He wasn’t that way during our conversation. — eds. )
Issue #5: ” The Mayor’s business is business”
Once again, the news media has the wool pulled over its eyes by the snake-oil salesman we call our mayor! I had hoped, as a newspaper setting itself up as an “alternative” to the daily papers here, the Fort Wayne Reader would ask Richard some tough questions, like what the heck this Six Sigma is that seems to have so much sway in Fort Wayne. Instead, we get to hear more about turning Southtown into a stupid training academy, a waste of time, money, and effort to everyone involved.
— Andrew M
An interview with the mayor, and an article on a tattoo parlor in the same issue. Weird.
— Angie K.
Issue #6: “Land of the Fat”
Why is it okay to make fun of fat people? I saw you guys on TV in January and neither one of you looks like he’s passed up too many desserts.
— Stephanie B.
Issue #8: “Radio blandwidth”
I’ve been on the radio in Fort Wayne for about 30 years, and I just wanted to tell you what a great, fantastic article that was. Take it from somebody who has been there. Believe me, that whole article had my name written all over it. After 25 years at WOWO, it was just dead-on. It was like I had written the damn thing myself. Whatever research you did was just terrific, so keep up the good work.
— Ron Gregory
(Gregory was a staple of Fort Wayne radio for 30 years. He recently returned to the air on WBZQ and Q101)
Great issue! I loved the radio story, Youtheatre, Gloria Diaz article on “Nightshift,” (and her column), the Dangerous Universe story on Pixar and Disney, and the interview with Dee Snyder. The whole thing was great. Keep it up!
— Phil G.
I’ve been picking up your paper for a few months now, and I don’t believe for one minute you talked to any of the “celebrities” you claimed to talk to. Isn’t it unethical journalism to take credit for those interviews with NYPD Blue, the Sopranos guy, the Obnoxious Fiancé, Twisted Sister, etc. when you obviously got those from another source? I’d love to see the real authors find out about your plagiarism and sue you for everything you’ve got.
— Steve M.
(Actually, we did talk to those people. Funny thing is, we thought most readers would think it was kind of cool that we talked to one of the Mars mission managers (Jim Erickson, issue #3), or one of the authors of the Carnegie Report on WMDs in Iraq (issue #16), or snagged the first interview with Linda Buskirk after the 2003 mayoral election (issue #1), but they were far more impressed that we got time with Fox TV’s big, fat, obnoxious finace (who was not in the least bit obnoxious, and I understand he’s lost some weight). Anyway, for the record, any article that says Fort Wayne Reader under the byline is an FWR original. All our regular columnists are originals, too. — eds.)
To the Fort Wayne Reader,
I can’t get enough of that crazy Dangerous Universe column you guys run. Is that Bert real or made up, because I can’t imagine one guy can come up with all that crazy stuff.
— Mark W
(Is this Bert? – eds.)
Issue #11: “TV Takeover”
Thank you for writing the article on media ownership a while back. I really appreciated it. It's not very often that we hear anything about who owns our media. Large businesses are controlling the information we have access to, and as a result, are shaping what we know and what we believe. Few people are talking about it and I was glad to read about it. I would love to read more articles like this in the Fort Wayne Reader.
— Brad T
(The FCC just approved Granite’s sale of 21 and the purchase of 33, but so far, no one at either organization is talking. We’ll do a follow up as soon as we can.— eds. )
Issue #12: “Is there more than corn in Indiana?”
Your story on UFOs (issue #12) was one of the best I’ve read on the subject. Those people are usually portrayed as crazy, but Mr. Sugden and Mr. Davenport sounded like intelligent people taking a serious approach to UFOs. I’m a skeptic when it comes to that stuff, but I appreciate the fact that instead of finding some weirdos and making fun of them, you took the time to talk to some serious people.
— Tom B.
You should do a follow-up on alien abductions. A lot of people in the area have reported alien abductions, but you never hear about it in the news.
— Kurt N.
(There’s a good reason you don’t hear much about alien abductions in the news. Even organizations that study UFOs are skeptical about most abduction stories. We could probably publish a book on all the abduction stories that were sent our way after we ran our UFO article. If half of them were true, the night skies of northeast Indiana would look like something from the last scene of “Close Encounters” all the time.)
I look forward to “Buenos Diaz” every issue. Gloria Diaz is great! Where did you guys find her?
— Deb P.
(Yes, Gloria is great, and we didn’t find her, she found us — eds.)
Issue #13: “Colonized by Box Stores”
I’m sick of everybody whining about Walmart. Everyone shops at those stores, and people like Al Norman and the other groups you interviewed are just out-of-touch hippies standing in the way of progress.
— Robert N.
I read your article on Walmart et al with great interest; I am impressed at your range and ingenuity in carving out a niche for your paper in FW. I see your paper everywhere I go, which is an achievement in itself, and am very impressed with your presentation: the artwork for the Walmart article was very impressive. I couldn't resist mentioning that this would be a good time to rope in an alert copy-editor — perhaps an IPFW student seeking a career in journalism — to help with those little flukes that arise from spellchecking. "Free reign" instead of "free rein," popped up in your Walmart piece, and you quoted Al Norman as talking about a location that "compliments" the rest of the community, when I'm sure he must have meant "complements." "Kean office experience" is a requirement in one of your classified ads.
— Sophie G.
Issue #15 “Building a better election”
Your article “Building a better election” was interesting. I agree with Professor Miller: what should have been a serious approach to reforming election processes in this country was hijacked by special interests and became politicized. This year’s election seems to be headed towards an even bigger mess. We’ll probably be re-counting votes until Valentine’s Day!
— Dick G.
(Guess all of us were wrong about that vote re-count. — eds.)
As far as I’m concerned, the only reason to pick up your rag is for Gloria Diaz. I don’t care about movies, Summers is a dullard, and don’t even get me started on Mediawatch. Get Ms. Diaz to write more articles for you. She seems to be the only one who knows how to put a good sentence together.
— Sandy A
(See issue #12 above — eds.)
Issue #16: “The (still) Missing Link”
Apparently the meetings were confirmed by a Taliban operative: "Upon information and belief, there have been numerous meetings between IRAQI Intelligence agents and high-ranking AL QAEDA terrorists to plan terror attacks. Once such meeting occurred in 1992, when ZAWAHIRI (EGYPTIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD leader and AL QAEDA officer) met with IRAQI INTELLIGENCE agents in Baghdad, IRAQ over several days. An IRAQI serving with the TALIBAN who fled Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, was captured in Kurdistan and has corroborated this meeting and confirmed that IRAQI contacts with AL QAEDA began in 1992." -unofficial anonymous statement on the web
I believe the docs went into his socks and then it got back to the CIA. It seems they were interrogating prisoners for corroboration and got some possible verification. I'll bet this info was seen by W and Powell. I heard statements from them that seem to reflect this info.
I consider this evidence of an operational connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. In your article it contained many dreaded nuances. There must be clear statements regarding characters, states, and events. The W administration never made a case for a connection between Saddam or Iraq, and 9-11. They never made a case for an "operational" or otherwise connection between Saddam and Bin Laden (as Cheney was quoted in your article), but they did make strong accusations of a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda and 9-11. Saddam and Terrorism. I believe these accusations were NOT refuted in even the 9-11 commission report.
It is unsettling that we have not found significant amounts of WMD's in Iraq, though we have found much evidence of them. But without the physical evidence no journalist will give up the ghost.
Songs I am sick of: Breakfast at Tiffanys
Old Time Rock and Roll
Locked Me Up ( won't let me out)
— Kyle S
Great piece on "the missing link." I keep waiting for people to wake up and realize what a hoax has been perpetrated, but I'm beginning to fear it just won't happen. It irks me that the mainstream media hasn't pursued this with the diligence they could, or should.
— Linda L
Issue #19 “Investigating the Spirit World”
I recently read an article in your paper entitled "Investigating the spirit world" and found it mildly amusing. As a child I was a bit frightened of ghosts. There was more than one night I spent sleeping at the foot of my parent’s bed convinced that at any minute a ghost was about to appear. It’s nice to know that even as we get older, there are still people interested enough in this sort of thing to actually investigate it.
— Steve S
To whom it may concern,
The ghost story you ran in your paper was interesting. When I hit high school I was no longer scared of ghosts. Therefore, I find it silly that adults will spend their time investigating the “supernatural”. People realize that ghosts aren’t real, right? What’s next, fairy hunters? Is anyone investigating the Boogie Man?
— Patty C
Issue #20 “The Overlooked”
Kudos on your recent story covering local organizers working to help victims of domestic violence. In a world where our local news seems bent on covering world events at the expense of local ones, it’s nice to see a paper step up to the plate talk about such local issues.
— James H.C.
Issue 22: “Outgunned”
I am a gun owner and member of the NRA and didn't particularly like your article entitled "Outgunned". As you pointed out, the ban on assault weapons was a "toothless" bill. However, what you fail to mention is that this bill was unconstitutional. The second amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, and I quote, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." For the (then) liberal government of the United States to place laws infringing gun ownership would require amending the Constitution -- something the "red states" would make sure never happens. There should never be a caveat on the second amendment.
— Robert J
To The Fort Wayne Reader
It's nice to see ANOTHER paper in the Fort Wayne metro area being run by conservative "wack-jobs." What I am specifically referring to is the article about the lifting of the ban on assault weapons. Where you say that the bill was toothless I would have to agree. Why not ban, as you point out, the more dangerous weapons of handguns and rifles? How many murders and accidents could be averted IF THERE WERE SIMPLY NO GUNS AROUND? Think about this; when was the last time you heard of someone in Fort Wayne being murdered by something OTHER than a gun?
— Paul C
We have plenty more where those came from, but we think we’ll stop right there for now.
Let your own voice be heard. Please send your letters to:
Fort Wayne Reader
4646 West Jefferson, Suite 180
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
Or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, thanks for a great year and keep reading!