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A Question.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Fenian_Bastard, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002728150

    Leave the politics out of it.
    If you're the editorial page editor, do you publish this letter? Does it make a difference that this is Denver, where wingnuts already clipped a talk-show host in his driveway? Would it make a difference if it suggested beheading SPECIFIC pundits?
    I confess, I really don't know.
  2. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    This is an easy one. Publish, then add editor's note that the reader's return address and a copy of the letter have been forwarded to the FBI. The letter writer has advocated violent bodily harm to American citizens because of their political status. He/she is a terrorist.
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    What's ironic about it?
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I love this guy. If the left anquishes about the body count of U.S. soldiers, it's just a number.

    If the left doesn't anguish enough about the death of two particular soldiers, we are siding with the jihadists.

    I think the fact that no particular names were mentioned and that a lot of people probably agree with the sentiment makes it worth publishing.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I publish and let it speak for itself.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    When asked if the letter sparked any discussion within the editorial page staff prior to its publication, Wolman said, "Oh sure. The decision was that there are extreme opinions out there and censuring them or pretending they don't exist wouldn't reasonably add to the debate."

    So ... what? We start running letters from neo-Nazis advocating the extermination of certain groups? Etc., etc., etc.

    I think the Denver Post abdicated its responsibility to exercise good judgment, especially since what the letter-writer suggests would be against the law anyway and is too ridiculous to take seriously. Although I can think of a couple editors I wouldn't mind seeing beheaded ...

    Is the Denver Post so attention-starved that it needs to resort to tabloid shock tricks?
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I have to second Mr. Ridgeway's position here. The letter, in its content, illuminates nothing. Nor does it answer a specific question or charge from the paper itself. The letter's existence simply corroborates the obvious: that there are murderous blowhards among us.

    That it ratchets up the heat on a public debate, without throwing any light on it, serves a purpose contrary to the one a newspaper should try most ardently to uphold in times of public discord.

    A clean whiff by the editorial board.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Are letters supposed to illuminate something? Nice if they do, but I thought they were supposed to at least represent a variety of views on subjects of interest to readers.

    Would you routinely discard letters you disagreed with or thought were foolish?
  9. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Yes, I think letters to the editor should, in general, run in response to specific stories. Whether they oppose that story or agree with it is immaterial. As is how vehemently they do so within the bounds of the paper's restrictions on language, etc. What they should be illuminating is something new in the range of public opinion and/or feeling on that story.

    More rarely, I think they should be allowed in if they make note of something happening in the paper's coverage area of which the paper is unaware; i.e., that the letters have some news value in and of themselves.

    Letters that simply make a generic point ("I hate Democrats."), or cite only an already well-known public feeling ("I hate the president because I think he's stupid.") shouldn't make it in.

    In the case we're discussing here, I think it's a generic point (I hate the Lefties and the media), poorly supported by cliche (They're soft on terrorists and we all know it), and well outside the boundaries of what most papers would consider needlessly inflammatory because it calls, even if sarcastically, for their beheading.

    And in the city where Alan Berg was machine-gunned in his driveway for speaking his mind, this strikes me as a lapse not just in judgment but in taste.
  10. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

  11. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't have published it and I don't think one letter reflects a "strain of opinion out there."
    One person's view doesn't represent a group of people. But think about how many times you have heard that one letter does represent a group, how if one person went to the trouble of writing, then another 100 people have the same problem. It just isn't true.
    It illustrates a real problem though.
    In a quest to present both sides, the lunatic fringe gets into print. If that letter had said "behead all the Jew editors" it wouldn't have gotten in, but the crazies know that now, so they clean themselves up and get presentable. This is the result.
    It has been said on this board before that no profession shits on itself quite like the media and this just another example.
    That's the only way that I can describe the thought process of the Post. Some guy writes a letter that rips the press, so lets print it. We'll surely get on Romenesko and we can talk about great we are. We can pat ourselves on the back for being objective and presenting this "strain of opinion out there."
    Its just horseshit.
  12. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    I don't think you run a letter that advocates violence against innocent people. Simple as that.
    I don't know if I buy the Alan Berg analogy...he was killed by neo-Nazis. I think this letter writer is some lonely old crank who spends too much time on conservative political blogs and too little time interacting with actual people who may disagree with him.
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