They're telling it but are you listening?

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Twenty years ago I worked for a newspaper owner who gauged the success of each of his papers by the number of letters to the editor that ran each week.

If you're not holding letters because you have too many, he told editors, then you aren't doing something right.

A newspaper should make you feel something, he rightly believed. Every photograph, every article should stimulate some kind of emotion. Not every picture or story will merit protesting outrage, he surmised, but readers should feel something – happiness, sorrow, pain, compassion, concern, doubt. Something.

When Sue Vogt approached me this past winter with the idea that a group of six to eight retired senior women wanted to write columns for the Williston Pioneer, I had no idea what direction those weekly articles would take.

Knowing some of the women personally, I knew that some columns could become the kindling that lit fires among readers. I'm glad I'm not a betting woman because I'd lost big time.

For 11 weeks now those columns, ran under their moniker Let It Be Told, have covered everything from wild flowers to pet adoptions.

They are topics that many of us think about, talk about, maybe even pray about. They're topics that are of a general interest, but are particularly special to the person who writes it.

That's what a column is all about in a community newspaper – the sharing of yourself so others get to know you or maybe bringing awareness to something you feel strongly about.

I don't get many letters to the editor these days. In my former boss' thinking, the paper is a failure. But I know better.

With every announcement that is sent in, every classified that is placed, every ad that is sold, every subscription that is renewed, the Williston Pioneer affirms its place in our town.

That place is cemented every week by people just like you.

From the FFA advisor to the civic club publicity chairman, every single word that is submitted for publication bears importance.

This week I am challenging you to write a letter to the editor about something that appeared in the paper that evoked emotion.

I dare you to sit down with your favorite beverage and write 600 words about a topic you're passionate about.

I invite you to submit a photo or a story about your church, club, sporting event, organization.

I implore you to become a part of the Williston Pioneer's legacy.

Long after we're all gone – either to a new town or a new realm, your words will be preserved for future generations to read, and ponder.

What are you passionate about? What makes you pause and wonder, hmmm? What brings a smile to your face? What keeps you going day in and day out?

Come on. What are you waiting for?

Letters to the editor (400 words or less) and columns (650 words or less) may be sent to editor@willistonpioneer.com. Deadline is 5 p.m. Monday except when it's a Monday holiday when deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.