A little feedback, please

I’m happy to observe that readers of this blog are in no way shy about giving feedback. In fact, we just set a new record with a total of 60 comments and counting on this post from last week.

So let me ask for your thoughts on something that, surprisingly, I’ve only heard from a couple of people about today so far:

What did you think of today’s editorial page, which contained no editorials? We’re planning on doing this every Monday — turning over the whole page to the community, while refraining from pontificating ourselves — and comments and suggestions are more than welcome. So please sound off.

20 thoughts on “A little feedback, please

  1. Dave

    I would weigh in with a thumbs up on the Monday Forum. Another idea would be to pose one key question and solicit “person on the street” answers, preferably with pictures. I think you have used that style before on various subjects. Also the guest editorials with a pro and con view expressed can be interesting. Overall I like the new Monday format.

  2. Herb

    It’s OK. Gives more people a chance to get their input in print. But on the other hand, I can read most of that in this blog and others. Personally, I like the editorials better, because I have a great degree of trust in you guys and your perspective. You have access to a lot more facts and I presume, more time to process it, at least on local and national issues. I’m not trying to smear honey on your beard” (German proverb) — I am honest when I say that your position carries a lot more weight than the average Joe Blow, who may be just venting. To be honest, I spent more time today reading the comics than I did the editorial section.

  3. Mark Whittington


    Why don’t you get out of the office and come and actually talk to the people (the workers)? I wish you could sit at our break table (outside) during lunch. You go on and on about the war, yet I haven’t even heard anyone mention the war in the past six months! Nobody reads the paper because it doesn’t apply to their own lives. Over and over again, I hear people talk about being worked into the ground, not having any rights, being paid crummy wages, missing their families, not having enough time to take care of their business, etc. You’d rather talk about centrism. Why don’t you make Monday, “Worker’s Day”?

  4. Michael Bloom

    DON’T do a “person on the street” segment. Unless you do it the right way, and show your readers how dumb a vast majority of people are. Like ask them first ask them if they are voters, and if they are, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and / or the Preamble to the Constitution. Now that would be sad but enlightening. I would definetly read that. I highly doubt that the powers that be would allow that though.
    But other than that, I had no problem with Monday’s format.

  5. Dave

    The “Man on the Street” interviews are invaluable for exactly the reasons you note. You may find one college student who may be historically illiterate and you may find a cab driver who reads Shakespeare. That is what makes that form of data collection interesting to read. So, yes, it has to be done the right way and you don’t want to intentionally humiliate anyone either.

    Mark, now that sounds like a depressing lunch bunch. But your group must be getting breaks and are allowed to sit and have lunch. Not a bad benefit program on the surface. Not sure what company you are with but many of the Wal-Mart workers are actually pretty satisfied with their jobs. What’s up there?

  6. Lee

    I agree that the editors should use their day off to meet some real people, and avoid their usual chums, like politicians and each other.
    Better yet, the editors should start their own sideline businesses so they can get some real experience as taxpayers.

  7. james potter

    i do not think it will end up working. extremists will simply take over the editorial page every week on their pet topic. i think monday editorials are also useful to help focus the general assembly during the legislative session. i will normally glance or read the editorials, i rarely pay attention to the letters to the editor since many appear to be “organized”.

  8. Lee

    Mr. Potter –
    The only place you will read some news is in the letters or the guest columns. The editors sit on a lot of important information when the culprits are people they admire. You might even have to read some other newspapers from SC, NC and GA to learn about scandals right here in Columbia.

  9. Brad Warthen

    To address points James Potter raises:
    1. No one, “extremists” or otherwise, will “take over” the page. It might actually make our job here easier if they could, but the fact is that we still have to sift through the vast number of letters we get, pick a good, representative sample of them to run, put them on the page and publish the page. Our role is in no way diminished. There’s just room for more letters than there was before.
    2. The first morning legislators are in town each week of the session is Tuesday, not Monday. For that reason, the most relevant days to run statewide-issue editorials, assuming you want lawmakers to be part of your attentive audience, are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and of course Sunday (even though they aren’t in town on Sunday, a Sunday editorial is a little harder for them to miss than, say, a Monday one).
    3. We do our best to spot and frustrate any attempt to stuff our letters space via an “organized” campaign. I’m sure there are some that are sophisticated enough to mask it, but from what I’ve seen, most letter-writing campaigns are pretty ham-handed and obvious. On the other hand, will you see people making similar points and seeming to walk in lockstep with other letter writers? Yep. But that is mostly attributable to the fact that partisan politics — with the media acting as facilitators — has oversimplified all too many complex issues to the point that there are all too many people who see things in the same black-and-white terms, and even express themselves using the same “talking points” that one side or the other of our polarized politics has generally agreed upon. That can make a lot of letters look like a part of a campaign when they are not. (Try this: Go out and find five ardent Democrats and five ardent Republicans and ask them the same question. I would guess that within each group, you would find startling similar language and talking points used in their responses.)

  10. Lee

    The letters chosen mostly seem to be to fit formula or template to present a diversity of viewpoints, as if all opinons were the same, and there are no differences between fact and fiction.
    A lot of good letters which appear to be part of a campaign are probably more likely an indication of how many people are outraged over some position an editorial took against individual liberty, and how many people know more about the subject than the editorial staff.

  11. Mike Reino

    While we are on the subject of editorials, I have a personal question. I must have had 5 calls for permission to print a letter I wrote to The State, and they never get printed. Who on the staff do I need to start sending chocolates to?
    Yes, I am not a Clyburn fan, and I do think has used his office too much for his own benefit and his family ( Please don’t try to tell me Mignon was qualified for the PSC). However, I don’t slanderize him with lies, and I’m probably just as critical of the GOP ( ask Katon).
    I read the editorials everyday, so as far as I’m concerned, the more, the better. The Morning News only prints one a day, so maybe I shouldn’t complain. Looking forward to chatting with you next year!

  12. Mike C

    Perhaps I shouldn’t comment because of my obvious conflict of interest, but as I’ve told Cindi Scoppe via email, featuring links from the online version of The State to referenced entries from The Columbia Record might help increase awareness of the latter.
    Space in the dead-tree version is precious, but the Monday gambit — not limited to the Record — might attract more submissions and interest from the community at large. I think that would be good for the paper and the community.
    For Mike Reino –
    You should consider becoming a blogger over at The Columbia Record. There’s a signup page you can fill out to apply. The software is fair — some capabilities are locked down — but it’s easy to use and there’s another class opening soon.
    I’ve mentioned Rep. Clyburn on my blog, as well as other politicians. It does take some time and effort, and a broadband connection helps a lot.

  13. Anonymous

    I think the no staff opinions on the editorial page is a great idea. Besides, I can get those on every other page of your paper.

  14. Herb

    I don’t know how “Anonymous” can get editorial opinion from the rest of the paper, which is three-fourths advertising. Or is he making conclusions from “Doonesbury”?
    I am amazed at the general sarcasm about the State’s editors. I still think they are pretty balanced and fairly well informed. Is that because I am not an ideologue? (I realize I may regret that last sentence!)

  15. Brad Warthen

    … and our mother dresses us funny. But seriously, folks…
    You might be able to sift through and find “staff opinions” between the lines of news stories if you’re determined to do so — I’ve said before that no human being is capable of being completely objective. That, plus the fact that vain attempts to BE objective mean that you leave part of the truth out of reporting (because much of the truth, in fact, the meat of it, is subjective and requires judgment to process) are the main reasons why I gave up being a newsman to run the editorial page.
    I have two further points to make about this. First, the professionals working in our newsroom may not achieve perfection in their attempts to be objective (because that’s impossible), but they will come a thousand times closer to it than I suspect Mr. Anonymous could ever do. Not that the unnamed critic gave me much to work with; I’m just going on the basis of observation over 30 years in this business: The people who are quickest to challenge news people’s supposed lack of objectivity tend to be the sorts who have such strongly skewed views themselves that they wouldn’t know objective fact if it jumped up and bit them in the sacroiliac.
    My other point is this: If you DO find something that could be regarded as “opinion” embedded in a news story, the odds are against it being anything like the deliberate opinion that you would find expressed by the editorial board of the newspaper. If the “bias” you identified DID match up with the editorial board’s position, it would occur in much the same way that a broken clock happens to match the correct time twice a day.

  16. Lee

    You canned defense from Journalism 101 omitted any real world examples of non-objective, ideologically-skewed reader demons.
    As for news filled with opinion: Lee Bandy.
    Most editorial sins of intentional omission of facts which undermine the tax-and-waste agenda.

  17. Lee

    Brad would have us believe that the tone and slant of news articles just happens to match the mindset of the editors by pure coincidence… no bearing on their promotions and pay…sure.

  18. Brad Warthen

    Say what? I’m not sure I understand Lee’s remark, although it seems pretty clear that he means it to be insulting. Are you saying that what appears on the news pages is slanted the way the editorial board goes? You’ve got to be kidding. You need to start reading the paper a little more carefully and critically. Are you saying, on the other hand, that any bias appearing in news pages reflects the worldview of NEWS editors? Maybe so, if they edit it into the copy — after all, they’re the ones who have it last.
    But the part about promotions and pay is the real head-scratcher. How would that work? I guess it depends on which one of the two above definitions of “editors” you’re using. In the first case, it would be an administrative impossibility. In the second, it would be possible, but so extremely offensive to the cultural values of news people — who believe ardently in their own objectivity, even when that belief is misplaced — that it’s a little hard to imagine any editor judging a writer on the basis of his supposed personal political views (if he has any; some news people are so into the “hands-off” attitude that they don’t even vote).
    Of course, I’m still puzzling over “canned defense from Journalism 101.” I don’t know what they’re teaching in J schools these days, but back when I had anything to do with them, it was all about how we were pure as the driven snow. There would have been none of the frank assertions about bias that I made.

  19. Lee

    I am saying that the writers know what the editors will print, and the editors know what to assign and how to edit it to conform to the corporate style sheets. If they want to move up the ladder, or just stay on the ladder, they conform.
    Just yesterday, Stephen Hayes published a stylesheet telling writers how to be “fair and balanced” in their articles about Islamic terrorists, by inserting references to militias, white supremicists, etc.


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