Heads against the wall
Journalists often confuse themselves with people who know things. It’s so easy to feel informed because journalists read a lot of different journalism from many different sources. That assumption of knowledge can sometimes cause arrogance and a willingness to predict outcomes.
We say this in the context of the special election for Nevada U.S. House District 2 that is taking place on the day we compose this editorial, Tuesday, Sept. 13. We endorsed Kate Marshall for the position and were quite quickly mocked among our friends. “How can you endorse a Democrat in a seat that’s been held by Republicans since it was created?” “Republicans outnumber Democrats by 30,000 registered voters in that district.” “Why do you waste ink on a sure loser? Why don’t you editorialize on something where you can have an impact, like the sanitation at tattoo parlors?”
Look, it’s not like we can’t see the writing on the wall, but that’s not really how we pick things to write about around here. It would be easy—easy—to write endorsements or other types of editorials based on the outcomes we expect. In fact, if some of the political junkies around here were to write predictions instead of endorsements, we’d bat about 98-99 percent accuracy—and we say that in all humility, even after the first paragraph of this editorial. We fully expect Kate Marshall to get blown out of the water. About the only area in which we have disagreements is the number of points by which she will get destroyed.
But these editorials are the voice of the newspaper. They’re supposed to state sort of the group conscience of the editorial staff. (And yes, it’s purely the editorial staff. It would be difficult to count how many times the sales side has pointed out the distinction.)
But even when we state our conscience—what we believe to be right in the context of right and wrong, good and evil—we fully expect to get our hats handed to us. But, that’s also part of our job, to represent the people who, due to their financial status or disenfranchisement, don’t have a voice. We don’t think of ourselves as the leadership of any group, we’re just one voice in the unwashed horde.
So when the RN&R said it would be irresponsible to install a train trench downtown, when we questioned the value of STAR bonds, when we commented on the destruction of the Mapes or the management of special events downtown, when we called for humane treatment of homeless people and families, when we demanded support of Burning Man by local government, or any of the hundreds of other opinions we’ve offered over the years, we truly don’t expect corrupt politicians to change or to act for the public good—that’s not our motivation.
Our motivation is to inform the public that there are other people who feel the way they do, to comfort the downtrodden, to let people know that if they do act, they’re not acting alone.
So we lose some battles sometimes. What the hell else are we supposed to do?