No. 352

The English historian George Trevelyan once said, Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. This is a statement that contains a lot of truth for a thinking person. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know that education is something close to my heart. In todays highly technological society there is just no substitute for a quality education in relation to any of us achieving true and lasting success.
Something has happened just recently that is very exciting, but frankly we need your help to make some very important decisions. I say we because the decisions that are reached will affect many, many people from all across this great country of ours. A few weeks ago I was talking with the director of a state press association in another state and she asked this question: Have you ever considered putting your columns in a book and offering it for sale? At this point I told her about a commitment I had made to my readers several years ago. In case you did not read this particular column, I promised to never ask any of you for money, to never try to sell you anything and to never give your name to be placed on a mailing list.
I am pleased to say that I have kept this commitment although I have featured a number of books in my columns and provided information about how to order them. I have never requested or received one penny for doing this. Then this state press association director hit me with something that I am considering, but I need your help to know whether or not I would be doing the right thing. She said, Your book could be promoted by state press associations across the nation and we would receive some of the profit to provide scholarships for journalism students, something we do each year anyway.
She went on to say that the newspapers who run my column could make it available to readers and receive the lions share of the profits to be used for their NIE (Newspaper In Education) program or other community projects. I really believe in this program as my wife and I have been a local sponsor for the past four years, which means we pay for a classroom set of newspapers each week during the school year. I might add that many newspapers, especially weeklies, do not have a formal NIE program, but still provide newspapers to their local schools.
Now, here is the central question that must be answered. Are there enough people out there who would purchase one or more books to get this project off the ground? The book would make a wonderful gift for Christmas, graduation, weddings and other special occasions and could also be used as a premium to encourage people to subscribe or re-subscribe to their local newspaper. I would receive a small royalty from the sale of each one. In the early thinking stages, the title we have chosen is Learning, Earning & Giving Back and the columns included would be selected from the 350 that I have written up to this time, by a panel of award winning journalists from around the country.
If you think this idea has merit, here is what I hope you will do. Drop me a note and let me know and if you have a favorite column or two that you feel should be included, share this and we will pass it along to the selection committee. You could also encourage the folks at your local paper to participate. We have a long way to go before this book becomes a reality, but it seems to have the ingredients to help a lot of people, especially the additional students in your schools who would benefit from studying the newspaper in the classroom each week. Thank you for your friendship. I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)