And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, "Editor Emeritus"

... that the late Des Moines Register columnist Donald Kaul, when confronted by an action by a government or other public body with which he did not agree, was fond of quoting his father. When similarly affronted, Kaul said his father would always say it was expected because “they are all in it together!”

That sprung to mind when I read about the “coordinated response” by hundreds of daily papers (estimates range from 200 to 350) which followed the lead of the Boston Globe and ran an “it’s not our fault” type editorial on the same day.

Gist of the editorials was that the dailies are as pure as the driven snow and don’t deserve presidential criticism.

Iowa’s two largest dailies, lemming-like, followed the Globe over the cliff. Even though one of them opined that it is not the role of journalists to “abandon objectivity and respond in kind when attacked.” One tag line suggested that the president shows “cynicism and distrust” when he criticizes the press. Ya think?

When one newspaper can convince hundreds of others to do the same thing at the same time?

One suggests it is wrong for the president to consider daily papers as a monolith. Repeat above sentence.

There is no doubt that the president has “brung it on himself” in many instances.

My concern is not with who has the upper hand, but rather with the additional proof of how low national newspapers have sunk in the exercise of true journalism.

My teachers, professional and university, would throw a fit at the idea of one newspaper providing “editorial” fodder for another. Today’s dailies declare their independence, but check their news columns to see where many of those stories come from.

Those outside the profession have great difficulty understanding the concept that an editorial is the opinion of that particular newspaper. A letter to the editor is not an editorial. A syndicated column is not an editorial. An essay submitted by an expert, perhaps even solicited, is not an editorial, and is usually run on the page opposite any editorial, or the Op-Ed page.

What would professionals of my era who happened to believe the same way the Globe does have done? Run the Globe article as an Op-Ed and keep the traditional independence of the editorial.

After all, only newspaper editors and members of the royal family are entitled to the use of “we” when opining!

Rate this article: 
Average: 1 (2 votes)