Monday, July 25, 2005

Letters To The Editor Don't Take Newspapers Off The Hook

The current editorial fire storm at the NY Times leads to an interesting post via Mediacrity, that obviously discusses the NY Time editing problems, but also has a paragraph that covers letters from readers in general that I found very interesting:


I strongly agree with Mediacrity, on this point:

Every biased and inept journalist loves reader letters. They are a thousand times better than the Public Editor roasting your tootsies. That's why the distant rumble you heard this morning was from Times editors breathing a sigh of relief. They're off the hook for another week.

You see this played out in every liberal newspaper in the country, where letters from readers are used as the balancing voice to a largely left of center and liberal staff. My theory is that a left of center newspaper largely only allows right of center views expressed via the national Op-Ed articles it runs. The staff journalists are overwhelming left of center, and instead of having an effective Public Editor, the Editorial page Editor, uses a collection of letters from the readers to offer the counter balance.

I think that the selection and presentation of letters from readers, is a highly and calculated process. I believe that the Editor and management group view this section of the paper as the balancing factor for an overall liberal and left of center publication. There are plenty of left of center letters that proclaim their agreement with the papers general offerings, but that view is represented in the product the paper creates and offers. The right of center views have no such place or voice in the body of the newspaper in most left leaning publications. Obviously this stategy, if it does exist, does not come close to providing the balance that a credible newspaper must have.

The only way to have a balanced credible newspaper in my opinion is to employ not only journalists who are right of center but also editors who are right of center. Without right of center editors to balance the overall political left leaning of the majority of current editors, the counter voice to the liberal agenda is just not heard.

Even with only 28% of Americans saying they “trust” or view newpapers as “credible”, you don’t see any moves by the ultra-liberal newspapers to bring this editorial balance to the paper. What you do see is lots of letters to the editor that they somehow believe satisfies the need to represent all political sides of the issues of our day. Not the case……………………..

I use to write quite a few letters to the editor primarily focused on their biased coverage of the news. I have pretty much stopped writing those letters, because I don’t find it productive, and I have a better voice now, my blog. I also don’t want to continue to provide the Post with the crutch discribed above. They need to hire right of center journalists and editors to provide balance, not rely on letters from people like me. They don’t pay me, I pay them, well I pay them for now…………………………………………