Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Debate is Established

I had thought that my post on how to fix the DA would draw some controversy but blow over relatively quickly. At the most, I figured that someone from the paper would read it and get the point without taking it too personally. Enter a comment posted by opinion editor Matt Roberson. I will add in my response between passages, but otherwise, his words are unedited.
The daily athenaeum opinion page publishes the work of a list of columnists who were interviewed, suffered a trial period and are now full-time columnists. They were hired based on technical and literary proficiency; no one was turned away based on political bent, hometown, sexual preference, body odor, clothing style, height, weight, intelligence or beliefs.

Good...that means you're an equal opportunity employer. I never questioned or doubted that in the least.
If readers find the page one-sided then they should apply to be writers.

No kidding. That's why Step 1 is so crucial. The more you advertise for new writers, the greater your variety of choices between them. More variety = more diversity.

At this point, Roberson starts getting a little more colorful.
I have to pick from what I get; I don't have the luxury of holding a position open on my staff on the improbable chance a libertarian pulls his head out of ayn rand's ass and applies, or a green party member stops lamenting the death of Nader's campaign and wants to write, or even a heavily conservative or liberal stops bitching about fox or cnn and wants to write. If the page is one-sided, it's because the current writers who decided to apply all have a moderate stance on issues (with the exceptions of Mr. Nicholas and Mr. Wade). I don't go out and screen young dems for jobs.

You may have to pick from what you can get, but as I already said, you should have more to choose from. Step 1 can help alleviate that problem. Also, think about what you just said. "If the page is one-sided, it's because the current writers who decided to apply all have a moderate stance on issues." Here's the definition of the noun "moderate" as found on Dictionary.com:
One who holds or champions moderate views or opinions, especially in politics or religion.

A truly moderate position mixes both sides of an issue. The page cannot be one-sided if the current writers are moderates; it is logically impossible. By your theory, the exceptions to this rule are the Democratic columnist Steve Nicholas and the seemingly Republican columnist Charlie Wade. Wait...I think you forgot LJ Ulrich. Step 2 does not need to be utilized to the (D) and (R) tagging extreme to work; if Nicholas and Ulrich (and for that matter, any College Reps or Young Dems officers in the future) are designated with their political titles, then readers stand to gain from knowing for reasons that I have already stated in previous posts. And I know you didn't go looking for Young Dems, but that doesn't mean they didn't come looking for you. Why do you honestly think that they chose to write for the DA over the Dominion Post? I don't know and don't care about how much columnists are paid by the two papers; the fact is, conservatives are staying away from the DA and were even before Ulrich became a staff columnist. That is a problem, and you need to seriously consider why it exists.
As a side-note, I myself am an atheist, a free market advocate and find nothing redemptive in any major political party currently in existence. I don't have a single person on my staff who shares these particular views.

That's good (no sarcasm intended). Why don't you write editorials of your own more often? I know you're the editor of the Opinion page and probably a busy man, but I can't remember the last time I saw a column with your name attached. If you want to help provide new viewpoints, then you can start by showcasing your own. I'm honestly not attempting to be sarcastic when I say that; adding your thoughts would be good for the paper and the student body whether specific people (including myself) agree with you or not. Balance is necessary, if not always agreeable.

This is the final paragraph.
Your blog isn't too bad. (Thank you - Ed.) If you came out of your little shell and could bear the god-awful, heavy, unbearable, horrendous, foul pressure of having your work published with your face and name next to it, then maybe you could consider applying to be a columnist.

You know, that's not really a very nice way to go about trying to recruit me. I have already said that my anonymity is not due to some weird fear of being known; why else would I have an impulse to unmask myself every now and then? If I were known, this venue for intelligent debate and fresh viewpoints from myself, yourself, and everyone else would not be nearly as compelling or as open. Let me ask you this: if you knew who I was, would you have been so quick to respond to my words? The fact is that you could sit next to me in class every day without knowing that I blog. You already know that I am right-of-center, but you know little else about me. For all you know, you are debating with someone you have never met. I think it makes you and anyone else who reads this more able to challenge your mind and think freely. More than anything I can think of, free thought is powerful in and of itself.

There's also nothing saying that I would have to reveal myself if I joined the paper. I would not publish anything here about the DA if I was working for it, and as a matter of fact, this will probably be the last post I make about the paper for a good while. A discourse about the DA exists now, and discourse almost always brings positive change. My suggestions on what the paper can do better have been expressed: more advertising for new staffers, disclosure of titles, and as much original reporting as possible. The ball is now in your court, for I have said what I wanted to say.

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