Column writing not limited to one color

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2003

When I grab my favorite newspaper to read on Sunday mornings, my first intention is to read the publisher Andy Prutsok’s column because I feel that if anybody should be a good example in column writing, he is the one.

This past Sunday his column was centered on Jayson Blair, the New York Times reporter who fabricated and plagiarized stories. I hope that people don’t judge all black reporters because of his actions.

Prutsok’s column seemed to have taken on a racial overtone when I read the following statement concerning political correctness of some white readers. &uot;I’ve even had callers who complain that Evelyn Wall is allowed to write a column because she is black.&uot;


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Prutsok didn’t retaliate or probably found it unnecessary to set the record straight, so now I will.

In 1972, I was hired as a typesetter in the composing department, and started writing in 1982 when the editor at the time, Michael Kestner, told me to try my hand at a column for &uot;Black History Month.&uot; This was titled &uot;When I was Your Age.&uot; I was later promoted to editorial assistant. I expanded my writing a little further and wrote articles concerning people who were facing certain adversities. This column ran under the logo &uot;Overcoming Adversities.&uot;

In 1987, I was promoted to composing room supervisor and the column writing stopped because of extra duties of that position. Readers seemed to want me to start writing again, and in 1990 the editor at that time, Tim Copeland, asked me to write. He named the column &uot;Off the Wall&uot; in tribute to my name because I would be putting in extra hours in my spare time. I even took it on myself to join the YMCA Community Chorus to expose myself to the white community since I did received some misunderstandings from whites that I was writing only for blacks.

Whatever time and sacrifices that I made and devoted to writing paid off, because if I had not taken the opportunities that I was offered by these editors, I would have been out of a job or given the choice of working in Ahoskie in the composing department where our presses moved to in 1997.

Copeland told me that he thought that I deserved to prove myself as a staff writer, and I began that position in January 1997. The column stopped once more as I began to get use to the routine of the new title. Readers still wanted to see the &uot;Off the Wall&uot; column in the paper once more.

Prutsok then asked me if I would like to try it on the editorial page. The first one ran in February 2002. He gave all reporters and anyone in any other department the same privilege as he gave me.

To date, Becka Hill, advertising director; Luefras Robinson, a part-time reporter; Cowles, Norman, Allen, and have also contributed to the page. Robert Pocklington and Florence Arena of the community are also contributing, and anyone in the community can apply to do the same.

I would like to say to this to all readers: I am hired as a staff writer, and the more that an employee contributes to a job the more valuable he is on that job. So what would you prefer me to do? And believe you me, I don’t see a lot of black reporters coming here asking to be hired as reporters.

I have also heard some whites say that the paper was for blacks because more black church news was being published than white church news. Well, the white churches have the same privileges as the black churches.

In other words, every privilege carries with it equal rights.

If we had only white columnists, the black community would say the newspaper is still prejudiced.

At one time black news was found in one little column with the title &uot;News of Interest to Colored Readers.&uot; No blacks worked here except in the pressroom and on the janitorial staff.

Oh well, no matter how we try we can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Evelyn Wall is a reporter and regular columnist for the News-Herald.