Columnists do not write to please all readers
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 11, 2020 - 12:00am

The mission of every opinion writer is to provoke intelligent conversations on issues, events, and even personal experiences that have value-adding social, economic, political, and even personal matters. The columnists do not exist to please their readers or to cater to the biases of certain people. We are not paid PR writers but independent commentators. Not even our editors and publishers tell us what and how to write. So no one else should.

Readers who feel strongly against a certain opinion are free to send a letter to the editor, but they are expected to do so within the bounds of reason and propriety. They cannot impute motives on writers they hardly know about. They should stick to the issues and not attack personalities. They cannot dictate on opinion writers what to write about and how to go about it. They aren’t the editors, anyway. If this opinion writer makes some reference to my own experiences, my own family, and my own activities, it is because such circumstances are vehicles to drive home a value, principle, and important insight. It’s only the editor who has the power to accept or reject it.

Whenever I get a very nasty letter criticizing my writings, I feel amused instead of being insulted. Here are people who keep on saying unsavory things about my columns, and yet they keep on following me and reading my pieces every day. And so, it is their problem, not mine. At least, I was very effective enough to provoke some feelings or emotions from readers who have very high standards of journalism and critical writing. I feel complimented that I often receive some long and very antagonistic letters from people who have no obligation to read my columns, and still, they keep on following me. I have a strong suspicion, modesty aside, that they really like my style.

To these perennial critics, I express my gratitude for taking time each day, search out my written pieces, and really spend time, efforts, and their emotions to write extended expressions of their outrage, disappointments, and harsh critiques on my subject matters, my slants and my ways of putting into written words the topic I choose for the day. And, in fairness, they do write very well. I love their figures of speech, especially their hyperbole and analogy. And so, why don't they apply to become a columnist themselves? Then, they would come to realize the travails of writing daily. I promise to vex them daily too, just to return the favor, and make the life of columnists more colorful and exciting.

But to write with grace and elegance, they need to elevate their styles from a level of “argumentum ad hominem” or “argumentum ad absurdum” in expressing outrage to a level of diplomatic sarcasm. Not to expect that writers would write to make them smile each day, or to make them jump with joy because their bias is not necessarily the bias of columnists. Yes, of course, columnists have biases. That is why they write opinions. They are critical commentators, not journalists, where there is only one definition of truth. There are many perspectives to the realities they see. And if we do not see the way they see it, we express what we do see, not how they see it.

It is a gift of happiness for us to find that our readers are pleased. But pleasing them is not really our reason for being. Our mission is to express our thoughts and feelings, in order to provoke intelligent exchanges of perspectives. If you do not happen to share our views, it's okay. There are others who do, and that is the reality of life. We are not expected to agree on all things all the time. But we need not impose our thoughts on others.

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