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Thanks for Talking Back

I have a lot to say, but you make Bay Weekly a conversation

I’m writing to you.    
    I don’t see your face when I’m writing. I don’t imagine the finished paper in your hands, so it’s always a thrill when I do see you pick up a Bay Weekly. When I catch sight of you reading over breakfast or lunch, you probably catch sight of me, too, trying to steal a glance at what page you’re on while looking inconspicuous.
    Whenever, wherever you read, my words belong to you. They’re yours to make of what you will.
    I’ve had my say as my fingers hit the keyboard, for click by click I’m talking to you, speaking the words my hands type.
    As editor as well as writer, it’s you I’m thinking of, choosing stories that bring our community to life and writers who work like anglers to hook and haul you in. Then I edit every word through your ears.
    We journalists are the luckiest of writers; our stories are born because you will read them. Our work is a conversation, and we’re always imagining how to bring home to you what we’ve seen, thought and are now writing.
    Each week after we’ve had our say, we send out Bay Weekly in faith and hope. Just how audacious that hope is we see every Thursday morning, when hundreds of bundles of Bay Weekly, 50 to a bundle, are delivered by our five drivers. When one of those thousands of papers comes in your hands and across your eyes, our hopes are realized. By reading, you bring the conversation to life; that’s the journalist’s inspiring faith.
    Now and again, evidence comes to reinforce my faith.
    Sometimes, you tell me what we’re doing wrong. Right now, online readers are telling me that our online Best of the Bay ballot doesn’t work. I’m sorry to say you’re right; until the web doctors we’ve called in can fix it, please vote on print ballots, in the paper or available as a download at bayweekly.com. Mail, fax or hand-deliver them.
    Earlier this year, you told me that Ben Tausig’s Xword was too puzzling. He promised to bring his clues more in line with what I described as our “pretty conservative area: red in a blue state, with NAS and a heavy military and retired presence, including the U.S. Naval Academy, and older than the readers of most alternative papers.” Complaints have stopped, so I have faith that Xword is now working for you.
    Occasionally you tell me I’m doing everything wrong. Alfred Odierno of Deale sent me just such a letter on the occasion of our 19th birthday. He complained that I was writing for a ‘Bay Country,’ as you wish to call it, inhabited exclusively by women in juice-box dresses and bio-feedback acupuncturists.” Alfred was plainly neither of those, but he kept reading, presumably in the same way I’ve learned to appreciate neighbors whose every word and mannerism irritate me.
    This, however, has been one of those great weeks when you’ve told me how our conversation has clicked.
    Monday opened with a call from a reader who lives in both Lusby and D.C. “Where can I get hold of that boatwright you wrote about October 11?” she wanted to know. Robert ‘Bunny’ Joyce was, she hoped, “just the man” to repair her wooden rowboat. (No, Joyce doesn’t have a webpage. Yes, I do have his phone number.)
    Next I heard from Erik Michelson, executive director of the South River Federation. He wanted to get in touch with Sarah Sakora, the Annapolis High School student who’d written to tell us her family’s home, the subject of Margaret Tearman’s earlier story, had finally been certified as meeting LEED Platinum standards. She’d been so inspired by the whole experience, she wrote, that she was working toward her “Girl Scout Gold Award by putting a garden shed with a green roof (and possibly a rain barrel) next to the Annapolis High School vegetable garden.” (No, Alfred, Sarah doesn’t wear juice-box dresses, but she might adopt the fashion.)
    The South River Federation, Erik notes, has “some grant funds and are interested in supporting her effort.”
    This is the same week Mindy S. Nelson, fundraising and event coordinator for The SPCA of Anne Arundel County, wrote to thank Bay Weekly “for incorporating our Barktoberfest event as part of 8 Days a Week. Having media support for our events is truly appreciated as we work to raise funds for the thousands of orphaned animals that come to our shelter each year.”
    Thank you for making this such a good week. I hope we return the compliment in the paper you’re now reading, where we guide you to theater productions that can move you to tears or terror; restaurants where you can eat well — or overeat — for good causes; fish you can always catch; fall repotting instructions your houseplants will appreciate; hundreds of events to entertain and inform you. And, yes, more ways to live sustainably in Bay Country.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com