By Mal Keenan
I made it my business, as the editor and then publisher, to separate news facts from the opinion expressed in our editorials and by our columnists. Some of my paid subscribers did not like the fact that I did not censor my columnists, so I wrote the following personal column in 1977 to express my position on the matter.
I believe that what I had to say then is even more relevant today given the demise of the newspaper industry, and points up one critical reason why newspapers have become less relevant in our lives. Personal journalism simply has no place in news articles and yet it dominates the front pages of major newspapers today.
For the record, I divested myself of my newspaper property in the early 1980s and the publication in question is no longer in existence. Here is what I wrote in 1977:
"If I couldn't stand the heat, I never would have gone into the kitchen 17 years ago when I decided newspapering was fun.
That was back in the day when I slaved over every story because I thought it was the most important thing written since the turn of the century. Accuracy and excellence were my bywords then. I held all stories close to my chest in those days; all inexperienced journalists still do.
When you are young and have ideas about what's wrong with the world and people, you can't stand to have anyone change a single word of your copy. Your ego won't allow you to think that people aren't interested in what you have to say. That was back then; now I know different.
Oftentimes people aren't interested in what you have to say; more often than not, they are interested in finding someone who will listen to what they have to say. And so the rhetoric goes on. Some of it is good; some is not so good—that's my subjective opinion. Yours will no doubt differ. And that seems to be the name of the game lately at The Lacey Leader.
We currently carry a number of columnists who have some pretty definite ideas—including Ken Balsley, Henry Gay, Ron Woodbury, Glen Cole and another addition this week, Joe Dubey. These columnists put their convictions and observations into print because they have feelings and thoughts they want to share with you. They don't ask that you agree with their every word; they would like you to read their thoughts if you are interested.
Despite what some readers think, none of these columnists represent the opinion of The Lacey Leader—that's my prerogative as publisher and I don't intend to share it with any of our columnists unless they start paying the bills.
I do give them space to share their ideas because I do not want a dull paper. Dull papers do not sell and I am in the business of selling papers. I am also in the business of moving information and opinions.
Some people think I'm the wisest person to ever step off the boat. They want me to censor my columnists. I don't and won't do that for the same reason that I don't and won't censor YOUR opinion.
I don't publish this paper to sit in judgment of my contributors—whether they are paid employees of The Leader, voluntary columnists or readers who write letters to the editor. I am neither smart enough nor rich enough to censor my writers and readers. Besides, I enjoy them.
The fact that they have a place to express their ideas is enough for me.
That's what we are about at The Lacey Leader—a community forum for ideas and information. We don't publish a Bible—just a lot of chapters in an endless book.
I try to remember that not everyone is as smart as they think BUT it increases communication. Some people laugh when they read our material. Others cry. I am not so concerned with a person's reaction to our columnists as I am to the fact that they do or do not react.
I try to remember that the opposite of love is not hate—as you might think—but indifference. I can handle hate; I can't handle indifference. I enjoy living more than existing.
If our columnists jar you from time to time—good.
I oftentimes do not agree with our columnists. I try to reject their ideas without rejecting them as people. I guess that's the humanity in me. And why newspapering is fun. It's a people business. And I like people. I don't know of anything more interesting than people. And their opinions."
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