LETTER: An open letter to Mr. Smith

To Mr. Mark Smith,

Mark, I wish I could put into words how much your gift of a book and, even more, the hand-written letter meant to me this week. As you can see, this week’s paper is huge. It took a lot of time and effort from a lot of different people and I was on my ninth consecutive day at the office when you dropped in. 

It has become far too easy for us to lose the thread of our work lives, I too frequently wonder whether there’s still a point to the career I’ve invested two decades of my life in. It weighs most heavily on me when talking with the three young women who pursued job opportunities at our paper in recent years. 

Each of them, in their own way, have asked me whether this work (journalism) means anything to anyone anymore. Even when it hurts, I try to be real with them. I tell them we don’t get to know that, all we can do is keep doing the job and hope that people are paying attention. 

To my great relief, two of them rapidly received their own versions of reader feedback and even saw action taken because of the things they’ve written about. The third was in my office when I read your letter aloud. (I read the letter before looking inside the envelope because I expected both to contain much different messages. I hope you can forgive this too-young curmudgeon). I wish you had been there to see my face melt. 

All of this is to say, thank you. Thank you for the thoughtfulness, thank for your kindness, and thank you for reminding me that this work does matter even when I start believing no one is paying attention. 

With renewed grace and all my best wishes, 

Eric A. Howald

Keizertimes Managing Editor