I do something most every day that few people know about.
I edit Sound Off.
Yes, I’m the editor behind our popular Sound Off column, where readers are invited to give us their thoughts, opinions and comments about the things that are important to them.
A lot of readers use Sound Off to get a barometer of what people are thinking in South Mississippi. And we do too. Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot of good story ideas from Sound Off.
In case you are wondering, we get about 15 Sound Offs on a slow day and 50 or more on a heavy day. Reading the raw Sound Offs is an adventure, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
I like that a lot of the Sound Offs are clever. You can tell someone put some thought into them. I love it when people use Sound Off to thank someone who helped them. And, as the executive editor of the Sun Herald, I like the story tips and invitations to cover events. Please keep those coming.
What I don’t like is the hate that often shows up in the Sound Off submissions. At times, being anonymous brings out the worst in people. And it is usually two or three times a week that someone accuses me, as the guy who picks the Sound Offs, of liking or hating President Donald Trump too much.
My job as the column’s editor, though, is to weed out the ones that are unusable, often because they are personal attacks, from the ones that make a clear and well-defined point. Former Sun Herald editor Stan Tiner taught me through trial and error how to find the ones that make the cut.
Want some tips for getting your Sound Off in the column? Keep it short. At least one or two or a day are in excess of 200 words. We just don’t have that kind of space. And just know up front I’m not going to use any that are ugly, divisive or contain unsuitable language.
I asked Tiner about the history of Sound Off and he told me he did not invent it, although he was the one who brought it to the Sun Herald. That turned out to be a good move, as many people talk to me while I’m out in the community about what they read in Sound Off.
I also get questions from time to time about who picks the Sounds Offs. People seem curious.
Finally, the mystery is revealed.