Earlier this week, a newsroom colleague lamenting the general lack of civility in the political arena asked: Can't we just disagree and discuss issues rationally and calmly?
Unfortunately, the answer to his question appears to be no, we can't. I agree with his observation and think it's only getting worse, not better.
And to take it a step further, it's not just in the political arena.
The same day as the lunch discussion, two calls from readers degenerated quickly.
I like to think that it wasn't my fault, but I'm sure that if my callers were writing this, they'd explain how it was totally my fault.
From my standpoint, they were looking for somebody to agree with their positions, and when they didn't find it, they got angry.
In both cases, it seemed to me they couldn't accept the fact that news decisions are made not because of bias and prejudice for, or against, a person, political party or issue, but because of our news philosophy -- local over national or international news.
I understand that not everybody agrees with that philosophy, and I'm perfectly willing to discuss it -- rationally -- with anybody who takes the time to call.
I draw the line, though, when the shouting and swearing start.
Too bad some of those in the political arena don't see fit to do the same.
* SURPRISE: There were some surprise visitors in the newsroom Thursday afternoon. Reporter Loretta Park was "flocked" by the Child and Family Studies Student Association of Weber State University.
It was part of a fundraiser and consisted of pink flamingos -- lots of them, plastic and paper -- in and around Loretta's desk and work station, as well as a huge poster of a flamingo attached to a pillar next to her desk.
The sign attached to the display read "Happy Birthday, Loretta," so suspicion is that played a role in the flocking.
In fact, Loretta did manage Thursday night to track down the family member responsible for paying the $10 to flock her, but no word yet on to whom Loretta intends to send the flamingos next.
* VOICE MAIL: I often find blank messages on my voice mail; that is, a caller rings through to voice mail but doesn't leave a message.
Sometimes there's muttering about nobody being there to answer, but no message or number left so I can call back.
Let me assure anybody who feels that way that voice mail is not a tricky technology to avoid talking to you.
I pay close attention to my voice mails -- it's hard to ignore the blinking red light on the phone when there is a message waiting -- and I do return calls.
But at the least, I need a phone number to do so. So if you take the trouble to call and reach my voice mail, leave a message.
I'll return the call. I promise.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.