*

Tom Henry

Newsroom Editor

Editorial

Columnists challenge and only sometimes cheer

Saturday, January 27, 2018

“Tom Henry of the Courier News. Seriously dude. Not everything is negative,” Clarissa Jones via Facebook.

“It was like being in an argument reading the paper all the time. I agree that Blytheville needs to make many changes, but consistently complaining and bashing the leadership is not the way to bring about change,” Christi Travis via Facebook.

Ms. Jones, you are entirely correct. There is much good going on in Blytheville. That is why I have written many, many columns and articles pointing out the good in this city. In fact, I have even been involved in back and forth newspaper battle, defending the city’s honor and virtue, with a certain columnist from the Jonesboro Sun once.

I have written glowing accounts giving praise for a long list of things and people that are deserving of honor in Blytheville, including the Blytheville Primary School; Blytheville families; the downtown Halloween event this past November; signs of hope in Blytheville; the many positive aspects of Mississippi County. I have also written about the fact that the people of our hometown are fascinating characters even better than those in a novel, the airbase and its rich history of heroes, fatherhood, America, encouraging words about people living out their purpose and dreams while serving others. I've written glowing reviews of art exhibits and local authors, words of gratitude to the city when they mowed (which was their job) North Sawba Cemetery, seeing things through the eyes of our children, applauding local charity and volunteerism, Springtime in Blytheville, praising the way the city handled the Thunder Bayou public forum held at the high school, once again busting at the seams over the “hidden treasures” and heroes that walk among us in Blytheville, positive words of faith that Blytheville citizens can do anything they put their minds to, and interesting nuggets of Blytheville history.

I bragged about “good things happening in Blytheville”, I praised law enforcement during Blynd Justice, I wrote “An ode to books”, I praised local Vietnam Veterans and I spoke highly of the historic Ritz! Those are ALL included in my past columns alone.

I have also made videos and written feature articles that praised the college, numerous cancer survivors, Great River Medical Clinic, local businesses, the new county judge, the Lights of the Delta, the Blytheville Emergency Squad, veterans, beauty pageants, baseball supporters and Veterans Day/Memorial Day events.

I have spoken to area groups about how great Blytheville’s people are and I have behind the scenes tried to help or at least help get the word out about good non-profit events and efforts.

And much, much, much more.

The bottom line is, I have been here helping advance the good and fight against the bad in this city. I have been consistent. I have not attempted to tickle anyone’s ears with sweet lullabies or warm fuzzy words just to tap into mindless sentimentality. I have not been on a personal agenda trying to attack a handful of local people, despite the fact that there are some that I personally dislike. I challenge you or anyone to come show me where I have not backed up my words with evidence to support what I have written. The problem is, sometimes when things are particularly sensitive or particularly bad, some toes are going to get stepped on. Ouch!

Another problem is that all politicians are going to present just half of the story and it is my job to show readers the other side. You know it's an election year and there is a message campaign by our city elected officials to paint a picture better than truth allows regarding their job performance.

You know it, we all do. And if you are honest with yourself, think of how many things over the years I have exposed that you would otherwise never have known about. It’s just that this time, I’m stepping on toes you like.

I personally find the mayor and just about all of the city council members likeable. But I don’t like any of them enough to let them get away with what they have been trying to do. They are arrogant and they do not listen to us voters. They vote in a way that benefits themselves but could care less about us. They have created a mess and it's time to clean it up.

Ms. Travis, I am not trying to be argumentative, fighting just to fight. I’m also not trying to just bash leadership. I am trying to arouse those that truly hold the power, the citizens of this city, to rise up and demand more from their elected officials. I am trying to throw a light onto things that need to be fixed, thereby making this great city even better…and making yours and my life even better.

Carl Bernstein said, “Good journalism should challenge people, not just mindlessly amuse them.”

To those that wish to simply be amused, I recommend you just skip right over my column each week. But to those that wish to stay informed, share them. And to those that agree with me, drop me an email and let me know you stand in agreement about the need to clean up the mess.

tom@tomhenry.org