As I thought about the News & Record’s decision not to editorialize on the same-sex amendment ban, I wondered if no editorial is better than an editorial that opposes the position that you take.
So I did what any self-respecting person did. I went to the crowd. I took it to Facebook.
I wrote: “Here’s the scenario: Let’s say there’s a hot issue on the ballot and you feel strongly about it. Would you prefer the local newspaper editorialize in favor of a position you oppose OR take no position at all? (You cannot choose “the editorial page should take the position I agree with.”)
In two hours, I have 46 comments and they’re still coming in. Without question, they are overwhelmingly in favor of taking a position, regardless of what it is. A selection of comments:
John Cochran: “Staying silent on the issue is a failure of duty. A “majority” position alongside a “dissenting” position is fine … or even one piece presented as a dialogue between the majority and dissenting positions, which would be helpful potentially as a model for how to have a civil discussion of such matters. If the editorial board and the publisher are disagreeing among themselves on the issue, why not have the debate in print?”
Kitty Lowrence: “I’d rather read an editorial I disagree with than be left to assume that the paper doesn’t want to get its hands dirty by taking a position.”
Barclay Williams: “I would love to read a well reasoned position that opposes my own. ”
Charlie Brummitt: “Whether I support the position or not, I want my local paper to analyze it fairly then publish their opinion.”
Jim Kennedy: “I expect our local newspaper to TAKE A POSITION on issues as important as this. We are not talking about a minor matter here.”
Anu Mannar: “It is embarrassing to not take a stand. There might as well not be an editorial page if it avoids actual issues.”
Fiona Morgan: “Take a position. In doing so, be as transparent as possible about the process of coming to that conclusion. Present facts and evidence, including as fair-minded a presentation of the opposing viewpoint as possible. Give people enough leads to do their own research, but know that people don’t have time to do their own research: they read the editorial page because they value the informed opinions of people who do have the time.”
Chris McCoy: “I say stay neutral. As it is nothing more than an opinion at that point and you know what opinions are like….. Everybody has one.”
Update: I should have included this. I was discussing this issue last night with someone whose opinion I respect. My thought was that opponents of the amendment would prefer no editorial rather than an editorial that supported the amendment. That was my position, too. That’s why I posed it here. The answers surprised me and schooled me. You’re right; I was wrong.