A unique set of emails arrive in my mailbox at odd intervals, using the same condescending tone and phrases to criticize what the authors say are our left-wing lopsided opinion pages.
I suspect the waves of these emails are triggered by something, perhaps Tucker Carlson’s anti-media rants on Fox News, as some of the notes refer to him. And I believe the people writing the ratings haven’t actually read our opinion pages.
Because they are dead wrong.
Our opinion pages are anything but unbalanced. The purpose of this column is to show you why I can say this with such confidence.
When our newsroom began coordinating content for The Plain Dealer nearly two years ago, several people were responsible for different parts of the Forum sections. They were all well-meaning and dedicated, but they didn’t know what others were choosing for their areas of responsibility. There was a Sunday shortly after I became editor of Plain Dealer where we had a Forum section that was entirely one-sided. It was embarrassing because I was telling you how hard we work to balance our content.
We immediately put a system in place to make sure this never happened again. Since then, on Fridays at 1 p.m., we meet as a group via Microsoft Teams to analyze the plan of our balance notice pages. I’m in the meeting, as is Elizabeth Sullivan, our Opinion Content Editor. The same goes for William “Skip” Hall, the head of design for The Plain Dealer – and the head of all those wildly witty titles you love, along with Mike Mentrek, who’s head of design for the Forum section. We’re joined by former Plain Dealer editor Tim Warsinskey, who manages opinion content for Advance Local Enterprise, and Jeff Glick, who leads the Advance Local design lab.
It’s a substantial group of serious people with a single goal to make sure the opinion pages are balanced. We talk about every piece of content, classifying each as right, left, and neutral, to make sure we have an equal mix. We are talking about editorial cartoons, to ensure that we have a balance. And we have Bob Higgs, our former head of the Statehouse Bureau, combing through the wires’ opinion pieces for relevance — and fairness.
Week after week, we make sure we have the balance we promised you.
So why am I getting waves of emails saying otherwise? Like I said, I suspect there’s a trigger. And, the fact is, people who listen to and believe the nonsensical fiction peddled by Tucker Carlson are probably not an audience for our opinion pages.
Do you think anyone at Fox News is meeting to determine if the material from Carlson’s shows is balanced? Of course not. Fox said in court that Carlson’s is not a news program and that what he says “cannot reasonably be construed as fact.”
We produce our opinion platforms to give people multiple perspectives so they can form their own opinion on issues. Yes, make up their own mind. That’s what America is supposed to be: independent thinking. This was one of our founding principles. I would argue that it is unAmerican to believe anyone – especially someone as terribly dishonest as Carlson – without using the filter of independent thought. Placing blind trust in someone is a mistake, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Now you know the mission of our Opinion Pages and the rigorous process we use to fulfill that mission. If you believe in what we do – if you want to help ensure dedicated journalists continue to bring you the kind of insights we present – please consider supporting us by subscribing.
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