What? News and op-ed are not the same?
NOTE: I find it amusing that I had to edit the title of this post – after its initial posting
Michael Z. Williamson has written a post that really resonates with me. My dad was a printer. So was his dad. One of his sisters married a printer. My mom was a newspaper proof-reader. I spent a large part of my life in an around newspapers and print shops and worked in several. Heck, I was even a partner and helped start one.
One of the things that was stressed to me (or beaten into me, depending on your perspective) was that op-ed belongs in its section – and no where else. News was news and opinion was opinion and “never the twain shall meet.” Editorials and letters to the editor were sometimes thought provoking, sometimes stupid and occasionally funny. People sometimes disagreed with a paper’s editorial stance. They told us about it in one of three ways:
- They stopped subscribing. If your paper was the local weekly in a rural community, this didn’t happen often. If it did, there was often a “letter to the editor” explaining why. Sometimes, we’d even print them. There’s a lesson here about not attacking someone on their own forum. You did (and do) so at your own risk.
- They stopped advertising. This was a big deal, since advertising paid the bills. If they wrote the editor a letter, it wasn’t for publication and it was important to read it carefully. If you view almost everything differently than the community you serve, you should probably rethink your business plan.
- They’d write a letter to the editor, but continue to subscribe.
Anyway, he makes a number of points in his post. The two biggest ones are that the current crop of would-be journalists “literally cannot tell the difference between news and op-ed” and they “have destroyed any credibility the news industry might have had left.” For an old newspaper guy like me, that is both unspeakably sad and sadly true.
There’s more at the link. I recommend reading the entire article.