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— Criticism is helpful, albeit hurtful.

Years ago, I learned a very important truth: Evaluate the criticism.

Listen to the criticism, look for the truth in it — even if it’s only a shred — then attempt to grow and learn from it. Cast aside anything else.

My mother used to say “Consider the source,” and while that may be good advice, it isn’t enough.

If a dear friend or family member criticizes you, you may realize they are lovingly trying to help you improve and more readily accept their words.

If an enemy criticizes, you may be tempted to dismiss their stinging words, but that would be foolish. That person may be criticizing for less than noble reasons, but their criticism may still hold value.

This past weekend, a “Thumbs line” item was posted in The Benton County Daily Record about the editor of this newspaper — me.

“Thumbs down to the editor of the Times of Northeast Benton County for never covering positive news about the school and community. Pea Ridge schools are ranked top in the state in all academic areas, have no schools in school improvement and are contacted by many school districts on how to improve their own district’s academic program. Pea Ridge citizens are community-minded and are always working toward helping others. It is sad the editor always wants to shed a negative light on the school and community instead of letting everyone know that Pea Ridge is a great place to live!”

Sadly, this writer must not have read last week’s newspaper. The column entitled “Out of Mind” did just what the anonymous writer said the newspaper didn’t do.

Maybe the newspaper gets sidetracked on more negative than positive; but a review of recent newspapers appears to refute that. Maybe it’s a difference of opinion on what is negative and what is positive.

I love this community. I gladly print the club news, people’s family reunions, anniversaries and birthday photographs, and photographs of children winning awards or graduating from various schools — as space permits.

Last week, the photograph on the top of page 1 was of students praying at school. We celebrate America and the freedoms of speech and religion offered here. A picture is worth a thousand words. The local school officials do not prohibit this event. As a community, we’re glad.

Ironically, I also receive criticism that there’s too much school news in the paper. I allocate at least one page to school news, one to sports and often have more. The school is the largest employer in our community. Many people here have children or grandchildren in the school.

But, I also realize there are people who don’t have children in the school system and want to know more about other aspects of the community.

The ownership of this newspaper believes it is the right of the taxpayers and voters to know about all public business and, as much as it’s provided, print meeting times and dates, agendas of public meetings and stories about the business conducted at those meetings.

I attempt to cover all governmental meetings and report, as much as others report to us, about the events of our community and our school.

Sometimes the very people who complain that we don’t print enough “positive” news, are the same people who don’t provide us with the news, despite repeated requests. For instance, we have repeatedly requested the information about the schools’ high test scores, but not received it.

I also realize there are always two sides to every story. I welcome our readers’ phone calls and letters. If we print something about which you know different facts, call me. I’ll be happy to listen.

This is a very small newspaper with a small staff — a part-timer and me. We work many hours a week, trying to keep abreast of the news because we truly care about this community and attempt to cover all the events we can, in addition to attending our own family events.

This is a community newspaper and, as such, requests that our community members submit news and photographs. Most larger newspapers refuse to cover some of the events we cover and demand that the photographs of all Little League and youth sporting events be submitted.

I realize we can’t please everyone. We would be foolish to try.

Not all news is good news, but we absolutely love to print good news. Be sure to let us know about it.

This is your paper. Keep it that way by keeping us informed.

News, Pages 4 on 10/07/2009

Print Headline: Out of My Mind Value the criticism and learn from it

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