Last week we received a letter to the editor signed by 16 members of Clearwater Elks Lodge #499. The letter complained that the Times was discriminating against the Elks in its editorial practices.
We do not accept the complaint as justified. However, we are willing to work with the Elks to improve the coverage they get in the newspaper.
A search of our files from January, 2011, until today shows 32 items containing the word “Elks.” These range in importance from a simple filler that encouraged people to join a service club such as the Elks, to historic items in Back in Time, to photographs of events at the Elks Lodge, to articles and letters to the editor (the complete list appears below). That’s more than two news items per month.
How does the coverage the Elks get compare with that of other local service organizations?
Here at the Times we have kept on file pretty well every article written in the newspaper since February, 1998. A simple search for items with the word “Elks” shows a count of 777 (this would include quite a few repeats but gives a relative number). This is somewhat fewer than the Food Bank at 979 items and Rotary with a count of 997. However, it is more than Lions, which appears in 720 items, as well as Search and Rescue, which has a count of 717 (and if there is one organization I could be accused of favoring it would be Search and Rescue, because I served 15 years with that group as a volunteer).
Interestingly, the service organization with the highest count during the 14 years has been the Legion, with a count of 1,193. Credit for the good coverage likely should go to Legion leaders such as Reg Chambers and Harry James – they really have known how to get the word out.
In their letter, the Elks members complain that we fail to print their letters, and that when we do print their letters they have a large portion omitted.
It is the editor’s job to edit. Quite often individuals and groups submit articles that are too lengthy or that contain information that is difficult to read. Sometimes they really should be in a paid advertisement. We often get collections of photographs that are of poor quality, redundant or uninteresting.
We work hard to make the unclear clear, the uninteresting interesting, and the complicated simple. Our readers appreciate it. Usually those who submit articles and/or photographs appreciate it as well, although not always.
Sometimes we make mistakes, however. If an individual or group has problems with how we have treated their material, they should let us know right away. Waiting several months before complaining makes it difficult to correct any error that might have been made.
The Elks’ letter also complains that their articles end up on the second to last page with the obituaries. We can only find one example of that (in the Jan. 17, 2011 issue) among the 32 items we found from January 2011 to today.
In a recent editorial we cautioned against circling our wagons and shooting inwards. Despite Canfor-Vavenby’s recent going back to work, this community is still struggling economically. Pretty well all local organizations and clubs have declining numbers and aging memberships. We would love to be able to report good news about Clearwater Elks, and we do whenever we are able.
No one enjoys being the target of an angry letter to the editor. On the other hand, having a situation fester without communication would be far worse.
Elks coverage for the past year
The following is a list of editorial items that appeared in the Times from January, 2011 to the present (for more about this list, see the editorial on page A4):
1. Jan. 13, 2011, pg. A11, photo titled “Photo with Santa” about event at Elks Hall (with teaser on pg. 1).
2. Jan. 17, 2011, pg. A23, submitted article “Royal Purple sends invite to help out,” 421 words.
3. Jan. 31, pg. A19, submitted article “Elks 499: Year in Review,” 336 words.
4. April 25, pg. A17, submitted article with Elks logo “Clearwater Elks annual district meeting,” 442 words.
5. May 2, pg. A9, submitted photo “Local student presents school project to the Clearwater Elks Club.”
6. May 9, pg. A4, letter to editor “Garage sale to die for” mentions Elks breakfast will be held at the same time.
7. May 9, pg. A6, submitted article “Elks encourage new members to join Lodge,” 250 words.
8. May 16, pg. A11, article and three photos “Quilters busy quilting for Japan” about activity in Elks Hall, 100 words.
9. May 23, pg. A5, letter “National Aboriginal Day plans underway” mentions Elks Hall, 260 words.
10. May 30, pg. A6, submitted article “Royal Purple offers toy buying tips,” 260 words.
11. June 6, pg. A7, photo “Antiques at Farmers’ Market” mentions engine display held next to Elks Hall.
12. June 6, pg. A8, submitted article “Notes from the Royal Purple,” 210 words.
13. June 13, pg. A9, BOP Elks bursaries, two at $500 to Brianne Grimm and Alysson MacDougall.
14. June 13, pg. A5, letter to editor “National Aboriginal Day – June 12” about event coming up at Elks Hall, 275 words.
15. June 27, pg. A16, “National Aboriginal Day,” four photos of event at Elks Hall.
July 4, pg. A6, photo “Renos at Elks.”
16. July 11, pg. A6, item in Back in Time, 40 years ago, about new pharmacy to go into Lorex complex next to Elks Hall.
17. July 18, pg. A7, 73-word item “Elks getting support” in town council article “Ruddock Creek Mine representatives visit Clearwater.”
18. July 25, pg. A6, item in Back in Time, 40 years ago, grand opening of Clearwater Pharmacy in Lorex building near Elks Hall.
19. Aug. 15, pg. A3, filler “Providing Great Service to our Community: Legion, Rotary, Lions, Elks.”
20. Sept. 12, pg. A10, item in Back in Time about meeting in Elks Hall regarding incorporation for Clearwater, 52 words.
21. Oct. 3, pg. A18, mention of Elks breakfast in Kay Knox column “Gallivanting for the fun of it.”
22. Oct. 17, pg. A13, mention of Elks breakfast in article Farmers’ Market thrives with partnerships.”
23. Oct. 17, pg. A15, article and photo “Elks serve last breakfast,” 199 words.
24. Nov. 14, pg. A15, submitted article “Santa plans to attend Elks Christmas bazaar, 173 words.
25. Oct. 3, pg. A3, mention of Elks Hall in article “Tax exemptions under review.”
26. Dec. 5, pg. A6, Back in Time item about IWA meeting in Elks Hall, 25 years ago, 74 words.
27. Dec. 12, pg. A13, letter “Free community Christmas event planned for Dec. 18” about event coming in Elks Hall, 235 words.
28. Dec. 26, pg. A11, photo “Elks donate to Food Bank.”
29. Dec. 26, pg. A12, two photos “Santa pays a visit” about Aboriginal Sharing Center event at Elks Hall.
30. Jan. 9, 2012, pg. A4, letter to editor “Walk for Memories Jan. 29” about event coming at Elks Hall, 282 words.
31. Jan. 23, 2012, pg. A9, mention that Clearwater’s Alzheimer’s walk will be held at the Elks Hall in article “Barriere Walk for Memories to honor Mac Livingstone and family.”
32. Feb. 2, 2012, pg. A24, color photo “Walk for Memories” about Alzheimer’s walk from Elks Hall.