"...there was an editor in Barry County who sometimes freely published his opinions about individuals."The quotes come from former Hastings Banner M.L. Cook circa 1940 speaking of Orno Strong who was editor at the Nashville News apparently sometime in the 1890s. They appear in the "From Time to Time" history column without much information. I find it ironic those words were printed in the paper that fired their editor for espousing a personal opinion on his own blog with quotes fully attributed under his name, the blog even carrying a disclaimer that the writings were his own personal opinion.
..."he had a way of stating what he meant. He did not criticize to be mean-spirited. He had the conviction that a newspaper should be free to criticize officers and persons, if public interested seemed to demand that course."
I think one reason we see the trouble that newspapers are in is because so many of them took personal criticism as something to be avoided, firm stances alienate advertisers and readers. I can remember having a discussion with David T. Young, the former editor of the Banner, when I was considering starting this blog. The way I saw it, blogs were returning to the roots of the American newspaper. Blogs are all about opinion and point of view.
While many look down their noses even to this day, I think we've seen the American public voting with their wallets as newspapers whither on the vine and blogs enjoy increasing respectability and visibility. When I've been (often rightly) criticized for my own failings and shortcoming, I always tell the critics that they are free to start their own blog.
We are no longer help captive by the rich men who buy ink by the barrel. In fact, if this site cost me a dime I'd never have been able or willing to start it. You are free to publish your own unedited opinion without charge or much technical skill and I welcome you to do so. And sure, some may abuse that privilege, you may even think I've done so but how many newspapers have ignored their duty? How many newspapers, as well as TV news outlets, led the way into a misguided war in Iraq? How many stood by while the last administration ran up the debt and dismantled the protections that could have stopped or impeded the "economic tsunami" that now threatens us? How many newspapers are still allowing viewpoints they agree with through the filter of the editors pen without question while stopping others from accessing the precious space of the editorial pages? How many times does a trusted friend or political ally get to have their say, while potentially violating campaign finance laws and standards of ethics, while others are censored and silenced?
You can't ignore that often this blog and others like it have been places for vigorous discussions that couldn't take place in newspapers which often censor opinions the publisher disagrees with, while allowing its owner to stand high on his soapbox spouting off his own personal opinion. The thing is, you probably don't have the personal fortune to start your newspaper if you don't like the one you have. But you can start your own blog....