You get more flies with honey than vinegar

People are just getting downright rude.

I know I’m not the only one to notice. It really started happening decades ago, thanks to email, texting, the internet, social media, etc. It got much worse during COVID, and it isn’t getting any better.

People are so brave when they are not face to face. They feel they can say things and not be held accountable. Well, not today. Like what was said in the movie “Network” years ago, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

It’s like no one thinks anyone should have an opinion different from theirs. They show no respect and don’t listen. I’m actually a person who changes his mind quite often by hearing more information about issues. But I’m a dinosaur.

I’ve been getting some downright nasty emails lately, some from people who should know better. I’m going to share some of them with you. I won’t name names. But I hope by putting them in the spotlight these people will take a look at themselves and straighten up.

One man in Bainbridge Island wrote a terrible Letter to the Editor blasting a local youth organization. I told him I couldn’t run it without checking the facts, so I would be willing to look into it for a story (we are a publication that still respects facts). He went off on me to the point I told him I wasn’t going to work with him at all. To which he replied I was a prick.

That was the one that pushed me over the edge to write this column. But there have been plenty of others as I’d already been thinking about it.

A Bainbridge city leader did not contact me for weeks after I sent him a request. He ended up having a valid reason for that, but he did say my request was bold and inappropriate. He also tried to dictate what I was going to write. While certainly not near the same level as the last gentleman, and I use that term loosely, it caught me off-guard because this man is usually very courteous. My request was reasonable, and a simple “uncomfortable” would have sufficed.

Another person was upset because I didn’t report one particular comment from a long City Council meeting. No reporter can report everything. First of all, no one would take the time to read that long of a story. Secondly, there is only so much space in the paper. We try to pick what we think is the most important elements and keep it as balanced as possible.

BI isn’t the only area that could use a shot in the arm regarding manners.

One man in South Kitsap got upset because of a letter to the editor. I tried to explain it was that person’s opinion, not mine, but that didn’t matter. It was my fault, apparently, that person felt that way.

One woman took me to task because one of my reporters spoke to some people during a public meeting. I told her he was doing his job, finding out their names for his story. She apparently wanted everyone’s undivided attention on the dais.

Others were upset about covering only negative news about the school district. But when a bond hasn’t been passed in 30 years and a dysfunctional school board is leading the way it’s tough to balance that out. We report what goes on. I keep hoping they will share some news about the great things their students are doing, but we’re still waiting for those ideas.

In North Kitsap, there was a complaint that we were covering only one side of claims of racism in schools, but then we also were criticized in the opposite direction. I take that as a win since we were criticized for covering both sides.

While this column started with the need for people to be nicer, I must say most people we work with are very nice.

Most understand that because newspaper staffs are smaller than they used to be we need help from the community. It’s impossible to track everything that’s going on. I am so appreciative of people who provide us information, and sometimes even photos, because they understand we can’t be everywhere. That help is the reason we can provide the community with so much information about so many things.

I also appreciate how people seem to understand with these small staffs that what we used to often do in personal interviews now has to be done by phone or email. We used to have to do only three or four stories a week. Now it’s double that. The internet helps a lot because we can get some information much quicker than before. But that still takes time.

And other people have busy lives, too. It used to be people would get right back to us. It was somewhat of an honor to be in the newspaper I think. But now, we have to wait sometimes days for replies. And readers don’t like that. They want information now. So, we can’t hold stories to wait for all the information. Often we have to go with what we have and follow up later.

To conclude, there is a bad attitude out there to be sure. But there are so many good folks that I want all of you to know we appreciate what you do to help us be a better newspaper.