I've met Shawn McIntosh, the public editor for the AJC. I sat on a panel with her as we discussed the future of newspapers in the Internet age. She was informed, smart, and kind. That's my opinion, and it's one I strongly believe in.
However, if someone out there thinks she's a blithering idiot who wouldn't know a viable future-of-news strategy if it bit on her on her the bum, please explain why in 500 words or fewer and email it to her. I'm sure she'd like to publish it.
That's my takeaway from this column, in which McIntosh explains the paper's wonderful new Balanced Views opinion page, in which "[w]e’ve been running side-by-side opinion columnists since September, and last week added a similar approach to our editorial cartoons."
Which means they've been taking one of the last reasons to read the Dunwoody-based news product, Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich, and undercutting his importance by offering a half-as-insightful take on the day's political absurdity. All in the bullshit name of "balance."
Sigh. Four things here. 1) This is why newspapers are dying. There is nothing wrong with pissing off a vocal minority of your audience who can't accept insightful commentary that doesn't align with their political belief, right, left, and all in between. You're better off without them. 2) Getting folks to email you and say "glad to see your pages don't really take a stand, or offer much insight that don't immediately refute" isn't a worthwhile endorsement of your strategy. 3) Abdicating taking strong stands on the editorial page, such as endorsing candidates, is as chicken-shit as it ever was. 4) Please don't suggest that running editorials like the one calling for Beverly Hall to step down shows that you'll speak out when necessary. How fat was that limb you climbed out on there? Please.
The problem is not "presenting the other side." The problem is finding columnists and readers with independent takes so insightful, argued in such an air-tight manner, that even opponents to that viewpoint have to respect it. That should be the path of the daily paper for this region, not one that substitutes focus-group results for a viable strategy.
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