That feeling in the pit of my stomach is familiar. I imagine it’s something like what people with ulcers feel — nervous, tightening, churning, almost painful. It’s telling me that there is very likely going to be fallout from a story we are about to publish. I won’t sleep well that night after we send the paper to press. After all these years and so many editions, it still comes with certain stories.

Is what we are about to publish going to hurt a friend? Are we being fair?  Have we told both sides if that’s what the issue demands? Did a community leader I admire do something bad that we are about to report? Are we obligated to publish a story that is going to cost us advertising dollars, taking money away that we could use to invest and make the company stronger? Are we sure this is a public figure we are writing about, because if it’s not we could face libel charges?

There’s a road in Waynesville called the homeless highway. It runs from Frog Level to Hazelwood and during any given week, you’ll see folks walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The end points of this beaten path are The Open Door and Haywood Pathways Center, two establishments offering physical and spiritual nourishment to weary souls.

Last year it was still just a quaint, silly little term — fake news.

In this holiday season, I have much to be thankful for. At least that’s the way I see it, though others may call me crazy for what I consider my blessings.

Skip past this column right now unless you’re OK with a little self-indulgence while I talk about what we do here at The Smoky Mountain News. I mean, it’s an odd business: we gather information from throughout the region — news from various sources and paid advertisements from businesses — package it in print and online, and give it away each week in hopes you’ll read and find what we do relevant, useful and interesting so we can do it again next week.

Every once in a great while, I come away from a book like some near-sighted fourth-grader who has just put on his first pair of glasses. The math problems on the whiteboard leap out at him; the words in his Open Court Reader are no longer a blur; the dimple in Jeannie Godine’s cheek is as fetching as her voice. I can see, the kid says to himself. I can really see.

“A lie can run around the world before the truth has its boots on.”

That’s one of the few quotes or sayings I can summon up at will. At some point it was etched into my memory. An internet search credits it to Terry Pratchett, a recently deceased but very popular British author of fantasy novels whom I have never read.

By Norman Hoffman • Guest Columnist

Some time ago a cartoon had Donald Trump’s press secretary and Kelly Ann Conway dressed as Burger King employees under a banner “Home of the Whopper” and Conway saying, “Do you want lies with that?” Lies seem to be the staple of the Trump administration.

Something newspaper editors never say: “I wish that fewer people responded to that piece in last week’s paper.”

Well, thanks to the nature of the online world that we currently live in, I’m going to buck tradition: I wish fewer people responded to that piece in last week’s paper.

By Kurt J. Volker • Contributing Writer

In a sense, Warren and Phil Drake and Warren’s wife Ronda have created their own field of dreams in the magical mountains of Macon County.

Tucked between Dalton’s Christian Bookstore and Angel Urgent Care at the Georgia Road and N.C. 64 in Franklin, is a rather non-descript storefront, marked by the corporate logo Myriad Media. While not open to the general public as a regular business normally is, Myriad Media is available by appointment and does provide a complete service for those seeking to create their own unique musical identity.

Once they announce your name, you stand up and move towards the bright lights.

Meandering around a sardine can ballroom of tables, chairs and random folks milling about, The Smoky Mountain News made it to the stage at the Sheraton in downtown Raleigh last Thursday evening.

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