The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Something for all means you won't like part of it

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"If the purpose of a newspaper is to inform, then it MUST provide opinions that differ from yours on subjects that do not necessarily interest you. If you wish to read only what you want about subjects you pick, that is what the internet is for." Melanie.

The newspaper I run has columnists, like most every print publication in the world. One of these is an elderly gent who grew up here and has a lifetime of highly entertaining and extremely interesting stories about growing up here.

In hopes of getting him to share these stories, I offered him a columnist spot. Instead, he's gone political. This is too easy to do as a columnist. Politics affects us all and hits us where it hurts. It is therefore natural to write about what affects us deeply. So be it.

Several readers have asked why this gent is writing a column. One put her thoughts in words as a letter to editor. In fact, she has two letters in this week's paper. She got a personal reply as well. The reply, which does not appear in the paper, included these statements:

His credentials are: He lives in Turner County and is willing to write a weekly column... We also had space for a columnist with the demise of Charles Perry.

To answer your unasked questions:
 

He has also attracted a number of regular readers who previously did not read the paper at all. Each week we strive to bring something read-worthy to everyone in Turner County. Mr. Brown is helping us achieve that. 

She replied, which is not in the paper, in part:

I am dismayed that to bolster sales the paper would include someone who quite obviously does not live up to any journalistic quality.  I would think that the paper would want to attract people to Turner County and would want to offer something of value to its readers. Apparently, you are trying to attract a certain group of readers at the expense of others. 

With so many options for the acquisition of news, it is an easy choice to find many enlightening and informative or amusing articles.  Time is a precious commodity and I for one will not waste mine reading such nonsense.


The more astute reader will note a glaring contradiction in the reply. "...would want to offer something of value to its readers. Apparently, you are trying to attract a certain group of readers at the expense of others."

We're supposed to attract readers and yet not attract readers? How?

As with the vast majority of people, she also misses the point of media outlets like newspapers (magazines, radio, TV, internet news sites and the like). What is the purpose of a newspaper (or other media outlet)? Most people will say "to inform people."

They are incorrect. However, suppose they are correct. If information is the purpose, then Mr. Brown is doing this. He brings a point of view which was lacking in the paper, a POV which is found in a significant part - a plurality POV in the main city - of this county.

In case yer wondering, the objective of a newspaper (and other media) is to inform. The purpose is a bit different. I leave you to wonder what that purpose is.

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