Fielder’s Choice

Proper attire for editors

I’ve gotten sort of accustomed to wearing shorts to work on Wednesdays.

That’s the day I’m out running a newspaper route, to Waterford, Abbeville, Laws Hill and Chulahoma.

I’ve even added an occasional Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to the mix, too — as far as shorts.

In a photo that ran in the newspaper a few weeks ago, when the Holly Springs Main Street Chamber hosted an awards ceremony get-together, I was only one in the photo wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a cap.

Christy Owens, executive director of the Main Street Chamber, invited me.

“I can try to stop by; I will be delivering newspapers that day and will probably have shorts on,” I said.

“It’s OK,” she replied. “Just come on.”

No one said anything to me about what I was wearing. But when I put the photo in the newspaper I said to myself, “What were you thinking?”

I remembered a column I wrote a long time ago, while working for The Itawamba County Times. It was probably in the late 1980s, not long after I became a managing editor for the first time.

The title of the column was “No tie for this editor.”

Rubye Del Harden, publisher of the newspaper, invited me to go to a meeting of the Dorsey Rural Community Development Council.

She asked those in attendance to fill out a form, giving their advice to the new editor. She called it the “Help Barry Exercise.”

Here were some of their recommendations:

1) Listen to what people have to say.

2) Admit mistakes. He who never makes mistakes never does anything.

3) Be available for comments.

4) Visit businesses and schools. Be friendly and be yourself.

5) Be honest and sincere in the things you publish. Again, admit your mistakes.

6) Give a lot of thought to what you write.

7) Be objective and don’t try to please all the people all of the time. Don’t be too controversial, but step on a few toes now and then; it’s OK.

8) Try to get better each day.

I liked those tips. And I’ve carried them with me over the years.

Then there was another suggestion — wear a tie (bow tie preferably).

As that suggestion was given verbally, most people at the rural community meeting laughed.

“Thank goodness,” I thought. “Surely, they don’t expect me to wear a tie to work all the time.” Come to find out, somewhere back in time, newspaper editors were known for wearing bow ties. But like I told the folks in Dorsey in the late ‘80s, I grew up “in the country” and I’m still “in the country.” I’ve always preferred khakis and a polo shirt. And then occasionally, depending on the plans for the day or evening, I might go with a tie and perhaps even a sports coat.

I still appreciate the good advice of the good folks in the Dorsey RCDC in Itawamba County back in the late ’80s.

And I appreciate the advice I’ve received in all my years as an editor.

It’s made me a better editor, I hope.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388

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