I hate fake news.
Some may find that funny, a member of the media sharing a displeasure for fake news, but it’s true.
In short fake news, in my opinion, is just quite simply gossip. Gossip taken to a level which some then accept as fact. Sadly, as a writer for a small town, weekly newspaper we find ourselves on the other side of “fake news” just like anyone else. The plus side/down side of this is often times it’s told to one or all of us.
Accusations of what we (as a team) stand for. Relationships which then result in us being accused of not properly reporting on certain topics. I still recall my early days behind the desk and being greeted with the response “You work for the Oakdale Liar?”
Yes, that was a real thing and yes, I’m still trying to figure out why people think it’s funny to openly insult you and remain shocked when you don’t laugh along.
Quite honestly, I’m not going to give this a whole lot of column space.
What I learned most recently is there are some who thrive on being unhappy, rocking the boat and spewing allegations which result in drama. A recent conversation with a business owner was all of these things. At the conclusion of the conversation, if you could call it that, as they did the majority of the talking leaving little opportunity for me to personally offer insight to the accusations.
In conclusion of the call, I simply wished them well and was then reminded of a quote which I love so much. “Remember, it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking.” Ann Landers.
Reflecting on the conversation later and my sadness for the lack of a conversation I had honestly hoped would not only clear things up, but perhaps give us opportunity to look into the allegations I remembered another piece of wisdom which has served me well; grace wins always.
Talking later that night with a friend and co-worker, she shared how much she couldn’t believe the nastiness of the person we were trying to make things right for. As we spoke, I shared with her I’d use this as a teaching moment, share it in this space and then … move on.
What I came to realize as we spoke, was this one unhappy person was taking precious time from the rest of us by way of discussing their nastiness – not worth it.
My girlfriend agreed, noting that it really didn’t have to be so ugly, to which I agreed as well.
I also recognized how toxic angry people really can be.
As a whole and as a staff, we’re really a pretty happy bunch. Now less than a dozen strong for three publications, it might be just as easy to be frustrated, angry, tired and some days we’re all of these things, but not for long. We not only enjoy what we do, we enjoy who we do it for. Quite simply … we’re grateful and gratitude inevitably results in happiness. Quite simple really.
So rather than waste a bunch of space on one sour business owner who’s struggling with their own demons, that’s my wish and lesson for our readers.
Now in a holiday season back among people, no longer wearing masks and able to be everywhere in person, please be grateful.
During the pandemic, I remember saying to friends time and time again, this is God’s way of teaching us all to slow down and pay attention. Oh sure, nothing was perfect and many were negatively affected, yet there was so much to be learned, so much to be gained and yes, as a result often times grace to be given to one another.
Now as we travel through this holiday season and well into a fresh year that is my hope, that each of us can pause long enough to show one another a little grace (myself included). To simply take a breath and a bit of pause before responding, to listen with kindness versus reaction.
For in the wise words of my once five-year-old, “Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.