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The Hawk's Nest

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I'll choose more beer and diversity

It has been one year since Trish took over the helm of The River Journal. One of her first decisions after taking the wheel was hiring me, demonstrating early some outstanding human resource skills. I’m sure Misty Grage, who came on shortly after me, feels the same.

As everyone in business knows, timing is everything, yet there are still many things that can’t be controlled. A few weeks after Trish became captain of The River Journal came Sept. 11 - a day that needs only the date mentioned to open a floodgate of memories. 

As with most publications, this paper depends on advertising to succeed or even to get by. Advertising spending nationwide took a dive after that day. Navigating through this was difficult at best and sometimes scary at worst, yet with Trish in the pilothouse our sales stayed on an even keel.

Why are we still surviving, when other publications lost as much as 40% of their revenue? 

I remember that day a year ago. We were supposed to print a paper Sept. 12, but we postponed it a day. Columns already completed by Trish, Dennis, and Sandy were pulled and new ones written. I added my thoughts in a short piece also; giving four different views on the day. They weren’t the same; in fact they didn’t even necessarily agree, yet all were printed the next day. 

In this one paper was a little bit of the voice of the USA. There was not a single, River Journal response to the event but rather, like the country we live in, differing views. 

Since that day all of us involved with this publication have had the support of its leadership to print what is important to us. For myself, I like to make people laugh, though maybe not today. We’ll see. 

During the last year this paper has printed stories I wholeheartedly disagree with and some I endorse with the same kind of passion. This is good. I’m proud to be associated with people who understand the responsibility of the freedoms we enjoy in this country - that a person’s opinion is sacred, as long at it does not incite crimes against humanity. 

Recently I was asked what The River Journal’s line was on a controversial subject. I answered that the only opinion that is important is the reader's; not ours. We hope to give information wherever we find it so the reader can make up his or her own mind. If the information is disagreeable they have the right - really, the responsibility - to use or not use it to further their cause. Ultimately it is the reader’s opinion.

This is what we need to think about as we pass this day of contemplation. What matters is not the action but our reactions. We can’t change what happened, but we can control our reaction, and there are nearly as many thoughts on how to deal with an issue as there are readers.

William McDonough, from the KPBX program On The Record said, “Peace comes from honoring creativity, intentionality and hope.”

I think it was Gandhi who said, “We must live the peace we strive for.” 

I’m planning for peace in my second year at The River Journal.  That is the reaction I choose.

My plan for work, of course, is to make more money and get more time off, and for the paper to buy more beer at Eichardt's. But if that can’t be done at least I’ll be working for someone who understands that success is in the diversity of ideas. Oh, and who knows quality human resources when she sees them. 

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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