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Sometimes threats aren’t what they seem

Random, sometimes bizarre, threats are not all that uncommon at the newspaper.

Our routine daily work brings out the worst in some.

Threats of bodily harm are not unheard of, though fortunately fairly rare, but anonymous threats to either sue us or somehow harm us are fairly commonplace.

So Tuesday morning, it wasn’t a complete shock when what looked a bit like ransom notes were atop my desk.

White poster board upon which someone had carefully cut out words and pasted them into a particularly order greeted me.

Mild surprise and a bit of curiosity came over me.

Clearly this person was upset — and a little creative, too. Upon closer examination, the words were familiar, if not the order in which they appeared.

These were words cut from the pages of our own newspaper.

Obviously the author must have been really upset with the newspaper — or me personally — to painstakingly take the time to use our own newspaper to “write” out such a thing.

Settling in behind the desk, my worst assumptions quickly were turned upside down. This wasn’t the work of a deranged madman — quite the opposite, in fact.

The clipped out Frank & Ernest comic strip in the corner gave it away. Menacing criminals don’t read comics, do they?

Although the clipped out letters appeared to have ransom-note qualities from a short distance, upon closer inspection the oversized letters were “thank you” letters from groups of students at West Elementary School in Natchez.

Four poster-board letters, each signed by a group of approximately four students were an end-of-the-year thank you note for copies of the newspapers that are provided through a partnership between our Newspapers in Education program and local businesses that sponsor newspapers for use in local classrooms.

“We would like to thank you for the newspapers,” Group 1’s letter read. “We really like the sports editions and the region sections, also the record section allowed us to see who got in trouble.”

Group 3’s letter read, “Dear Natchez Democrat, Thank you for all the newspapers you gave us. This year you really inspired us to read. Thanks.”

Vertically on the page, students also created the word: Motivated.

At the bottom of the letter, the group pieced together two bits of newsprint to say: “P.S. It feels wonderful to know people in Natchez support me.”

That line speaks volumes.

First, students want and need our involvement, both in money and in time.

Second, the letter shows the NIE program is effective in helping teachers motivate students to get involved in the community and to read.

Sadly, we almost always have more classes seeking newspapers than we have sponsors to help pay for them.

Longtime sponsors such as Concordia Bank & Trust and The Markets have been consistent through the years, and their involvement has put current events information in the hands of thousands of area students.

The Democrat doesn’t make any profit off NIE. All the sponsorship dollars go directly to the expense of physically printing and delivery newspapers to classrooms around the area.

If you were inspired by the words of a child learning about his community, we’d welcome your NIE sponsorship.

Drop me a line or call 601-442-9101 and ask for the circulation department for more information.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.