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Open letter to George Norcross and the other new owners of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com
Congratulations Messrs. Norcross, Katz, Lenfest et al,
I, for one, welcome our daily print media's return to local ownership. Please don't close the Daily News.
While I imagine others will applaud this re-appropriation of the local press, no doubt the association of some owners with local politics is going to rankle. We've been through this before.
In Brian Tierney, we had a Republican owner. Learn from his experience, in particular his mistakes. He promised to keep personal politics out of the newspaper, even promising to do so in writing. That was a good idea. Do something like that.
However, when his centrist editorial board voted to reject John McCain for president -- as most centrist editorial boards did in 2008-- he couldn't resist injecting himself right onto the front page with a misjudged personal McCain endorsement that ran right next to the board's endorsement of Barack Obama.
It was like a banner headline that read, "The Owner Lied. He Wants Bias."
Don't do anything like that.
Yes, Philly is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Yes, many opinionated people (such as I and those here) are to the left of President Obama and most of the Democratic party.
We're here. Our positions deserve representation on your editorial pages. Syndicated columnists on the Democratic side of issues, such as E.J. Dionne and Eric Alterman, should share space with some further left, such as Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman. Maybe offer space to Duncan Black. He'd probably say no, but since we have such a great influential (and terse!) writer of the left in town, often referencing our urban hellhole, why not ask?
But Democrats and those to the left shouldn't be the only voices on the editorial pages, and we certainly don't need the news pages.
Paul Krugman has written that the facts have a liberal bias, and the truth is good people of the left pride themselves on being able to handle the truth, on crafting political positions that deal with all the messy details of daily life, specifically the lives of those who suffer the effects of a bad economy in relative obscurity. We can handle the truth on the street, in City Hall, even in Harrisburg, messy as that can be.
Just be honest. Let good reporters write what they observe and what they think is newsworthy with as little bias as possible.
Cover the 99% as well as you cover the 1% (which is more than some publications can manage) and we'll be fine.
If a bias is inevitable, show bias toward thoughtful, intelligent approaches to daily events and life. If you need an example, I'd offer the current Boston Globe. I remember the golden days of the Inquirer, when it won seventeen Pulitzers in fifteen years. With its well-staffed political coverage and intelligent features, today's Globe looks more like the old Inquirer than the Inquirer does.
I know it all comes down to money, but if they can do it there, why can't we do it here? Before considering another round of cuts or more salacious front page photos, why not at least try adding more thoughtful journalists instead? Maybe we'd like book reviews, if we were offered them.
Anyway, good luck! I look forward to cursing you sometime in the future. Quoting you too!
Oh, one more thing. Please don't close the Daily News. In my opinion, even with all their faults, they got the 99% right more frequently than the Inky did. Announcing you are keeping the DN would be a good way to start.