Letter served as welcome reminder
The handwritten letter arrived here from Vergennes right around Christmas, and essentially I have treated it like a gift.
And not because it was flattering. Signed “Grandma Bushee,” the handwritten document on a small, yellow lined sheet rightly took me to task for misspelling her grandchildren’s last name, and possibly for confusing their first names.
“Will you please spell my two grandsons’ names right?” wrote Ms. Bushee “I have not seen their names spelled correctly yet. I’m proud of them, as I was (of) their father and uncle in the ’70s.”
Senior Josh Bushee — not Bushey, thank you very much — and sophomore Jake Bushee — ditto — both play for the Vergennes Union High School boys’ basketball team.
Ms. Bushee also underlined the proper spelling of her and her grandsons’ last name each time it appeared in her brief letter, four times in all.
Because I have known and reported on a number of folks by the name of Bushey in Vergennes over the years — former planning chairman Bruce and alderwoman Deb are two among many — I never even noticed the different spelling. That’s not an excuse; I should have.
Above and beyond reinforcing the fact that getting people’s names right is Job One for a community journalist, Ms. Bushee’s letter served as a reminder that people do care about what we do here.
I mean, look at what was involved in simply communicating her concern: sitting down with a pen, writing the letter, addressing an envelope, affixing a 44-cent stamp, and either putting it in her mailbox for pickup or dropping it off at the Vergennes post office.
That’s a little more complicated than a composing a tweet, text message, a comment on a Web site, or an email, all of which can be done in a couple minutes.
So, yes, Grandma Bushee’s feedback was most welcome, and I have kept the letter. And when Vermont Press Association Executive Director Mike Donoghue asked me to speak at a seminar at the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association conference in Boston this past weekend, the letter went with me.
Two other sports writers and editors and I talked to a small group of our peers about, among other things, how we try to balance coverage of multiple teams from multiple schools in our markets.
My fellow panelists loved the letter, and I read it to the seminar attendees to encourage them, to let them know that there are readers out there who really care about what they do — and that as professionals that they should try to get as many names (spelled right!) as possible into their papers.
All of this brings me to another central point: Feedback is welcome. And readers don’t even have to spend 44 cents and send something to P.O. Box 31, Middlebury VT 05753: My email address here is [email protected]; long, but easy to remember.
I won’t promise to agree with every concern, or to use every tip, but I will take each seriously. Feel free to hit send.
And thank you, Ms. Bushee, for reminding me to do my job right, and reminding me why I do it.
Mark A. Nelson of Bristol
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