Where I stand
The newspaper business is a precarious business. Newspaper editors and reporters, particularly for small newspapers, tend to work too much, get paid too little, and get to eat a lot of crap. That’s the way it is; we get used to it, even like it.
But I get irritated when people try to use me, our reporters and our newspaper as a commodity. They know a positive story in this newspaper will help their business, so they want to buy one or insist on one through more subtle methods. My tone will stay cordial—the worst thing that usually happens when I’m offered this kind of insult is I’ll stop talking—but I’m not for sale. Neither is anyone else around here.
I’m not threatened by calls to my boss, and when somebody calls and says, “Your boss told me to call you to do a story,” I’ll likely stop talking.
So I won’t have to explain it on the phone, here’s what I believe in: I believe in a literal interpretation of the First Amendment for everyone. I don’t believe in censoring writers’ artistic expression—even when I don’t like what they say. This newspaper, its writers and I are not doing public relations; we are doing journalism. I believe in fairness, but fairness is trumped by truth, and pretended objectivity is a shield for cowards.
To my mind, there are many factors that go into creating balance—positivity, negativity, right, left, multiple perspectives—it’s more like a spinning top than a scale. But don’t ever ask for pure positivity or pure negativity or for a writer to have his or her mind made up before he or she goes into a story. That sort of journalism is a lie, and it is not worth my time, your time or the paper it is printed on. So don’t ask us to lie and don’t try to censor us when we won’t.
Listen to that. I guess everybody has one of those days now and then.
Reason to vote No. 44: You should vote because you stand for something—if only democracy in theory. People need convictions to be human.