There is an old saw (in my opinion) in journalism that says you can't use “I” in a commentary or column. In fact, purists in journalistic circles will tell you that you can't use “you” either in columns or feature articles.
I think that's mostly true in news columns, but these are absolutes to the purists - and they're probably already counting how many times “I” have violated these canons in writing to “you.”
But the beautiful thing about it all is that most newspaper readers don't know a darn thing about all the rules and regulations and style machinations of the journalism industry. Perhaps better yet, they could care less.
What they do care about is that what they are reading reaches out and touches them where they live. That what “I” write is really about “you.” Whether it touches readers, makes them sad or happy, elicits memories of people, places and things of days gone by, helps them face times still ahead.
I know, because I am not just a writer, I'm a reader. And I like to think I am just like many of you. What you do, what you say, what you bare your soul to tell us, to share with us really does matter -and many times touches my heart.
It's no easy thing to reveal your innermost feelings, trials, tribulations - and triumphs - to not only complete strangers but even family and friends.
All this is not to say we don't need any rules or stylebooks to put out the paper. Quite the contrary. Style guides are an indispensable part of newspapering, least we have the world's worst hodgepodge and everybody doing their own thing.
In journalism, as in all industries, there has to be form and order. That has a lot to do with our credibility - and if we are not credible, we are nothing.
All that said, in the coming months we will be offering “you,” our readers, new opportunities to tell us your stories outside the daily news format. We will ask you about people who inspire you, who impact your lives and communities. People, businesses and organizations that help make the Daily Times' circulation area the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.
And we will tell you about people you need to know, the folks who may play a role in your lives in an everyday fashion whether you realize it or not.
The only limiting factor as we expand our “people” offerings will be the age-old bugaboo of papers - space. It's an unforgiving master. There's only so much of it and balancing what goes into your paper is a daily challenge.
“I” hope “you” like what we'll be doing.
Art Kuhn is managing editor of the Portsmouth Daily Times. He can be reached at (740) 353-3101, or by e-mail at email@example.com.