By Dan Pool, Editor
In last week’s edition Tim Schutter queried us in a letter to the editor on our stance on the statement that journalists are the enemy of the people made by the president.
Upon further thought and staff discussion, we feel that our original response did not explain adequately why we generally avoid commenting on national politics.
So here is an expanded explanation of our position in response to Mr. Schutter’s excellent question.
I generally steer our editorial page away from national news in favor of local issues for a couple of reasons based on conclusions drawn after years working at this local paper.
1. There is an ample amount of coverage of national politics available to everyone, all the time, literally everywhere you look.
The national papers cover it; there are television stations that broadcast it all day, every day without pause in an unceasing torrent.
If you want discussion, coverage, opinions on national issues look anywhere. Go to a restaurant and it’s on the television there; look down at your phone and it’s there. Check the Braves score online and you’ll get 32 updates on national news.
Knowing our limitations, I doubt there is anything new, insightful or different we could offer to the national scene that is not already expressed somewhere in this cacophony of views. Frankly, I want the Progress to offer something different.
2. There is no one else commenting or covering our city councils, planning commissions and events inside the county. Last week for example we both praised the city council and commissioners for something as simple as holding a joint meeting and then went on to point out they really ought to do it more often.
Local is our focus. It’s what we know about, can offer insight on and what interests us as a staff. A pronouncement from our commission chair carries a lot more weight on the day-to-day activities here than some acidic barb hurled in Washington.
I believe that if people paid a little more attention to what is happening here and less on the innuendos and name-calling in Washington we’d all be better off — maybe we’d have nicer parks (which we have editorialized for numerous times) or a comprehensive infrastructure plan. Maybe more people would take time to ponder the opioid crisis right here in this county and develop additional local resources.
Accurate news coverage and thoughtful commentary on the local level is our bread and butter. I have confidence we do it well and that it makes a difference. When we run stories about efforts to raise funds for some person’s medical needs or a group’s work to address a social problem, we can make a difference.
3. Finally, I plead limited ignorance to the national hubbub. There is a breaking headline constantly coming from Washington. I don’t have the time or any special resources to study them — to assess exactly what Mr. Trump may have said or the context. While I support my fellow journalists, before I jump on any bandwagon, I would feel the need to personally dig for the source and, frankly, I rarely have the luxury of the time necessary to sort through the claims and counterclaims.
I hope this better explains our position. And I thank the writer of the letter to the editor last week for taking us to task for not articulating it more clearly in the first place.
We may occasionally address a national issue, particularly if we feel the subject hits home in Pickens County. And we welcome others to bring their perspectives in the Other Voices column or as letters to the editor. But for the most part, our view is focused on the area between Talking Rock and Nelson, Big Ridge and Yellow Creek.
We welcome questions or comments regarding any of our coverage decisions. Look at the contact information below.