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Saturday, August 06, 2022

To regain trust, ditch the editorial page

A month ago, Axios reported, "Trust in news collapses to historic low."

Trust in newspapers was at 16%. Trust in TV news was at 11%. Both mediums lost trust by having too much opinion and not enough facts. People do not trust the facts given by opinionators, especially opinionators with whom they disagree.

That loss of trust leads to drops in circulation and viewership. I am not saying they are the cause of those audiences, but they certainly don't help. As the drill sergeant said in basic training, opinions are like a certain orifice. Everyone has one. Most of them stink. 

The quickest way to salvation -- to convincing people that you are a trustworthy source of news -- is to get rid of the opinions.

Newspapers need to stop telling people what to think. Junk the editorial page. Get rid of the editorials, the editorial cartoons and all the columnists. It pains me to say that because I wrote editorials for 26 years.

But editorial pages cast too much shade on the news coverage. Some of that shade is imaginary. Too much of it is real. While many reporters will tell you they don't read the editorials, they all know whether the editorials lean right or lean left. And the best way to get a promotion at a newspaper is to please the publisher.

Consider the situation in Florida where every newspaper editorial page seems to hate Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. This week he suspended Democrat Andrew Warren, the duly elected prosecutor of Hillsborough County. Tampa is the county seat.

Well, the Tampa Bay Times is fit to be tied. It ran a stronger than dirt editorial, "DeSantis: You’re not king of Florida."

It was all smoke with little light, as it began, "Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension Thursday of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren was politically craven, legally suspect, suspiciously timed and odorously soaked in autocracy, partisanship and bad faith — in other words, completely in keeping with this governor’s behavior. Warren should not have provided DeSantis a narrow opportunity to exploit. But that doesn’t excuse the governor’s gross abuse of power, his contempt for Hillsborough voters or his disregard for due process."

Whew.

But actually the case has due process. The state Senate will decide if Warren's flat-out refusal to enforce the 15-week ban on abortion warrants his dismissal.

The intemperate attack on DeSantis is mere virtue signaling. No senators will read the editorial, slap themselves on the forehead and say change his vote. No, the editorial is just there to assure readers that they are correct to hate DeSantis.

But half the people in Florida voted for him. Ticking off half your potential customers is a pretty odd marketing plan.

Throwing shade on your own reporting is even dumber.

32 comments:

  1. I always enjoy your pieces, they are common sense.

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  2. And then he starts in on the Bentley talk...

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    1. And WHY NOT? We all need dreams. -- BJ54

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    2. Waud has too much time on ze hands! Get a life Karen!

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  3. I love how the non-talent scribbler inserts the sentence "Warren should not have provided DeSantis a narrow opportunity to exploit." What a lovely way to say that Warren ignored his oath of office.

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  4. Sometimes it is too late. They can ditch the editorials and opinion columnists, but as far as I am concerned, they will never regain my trust.

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    1. I agree Schlongy. It's also not just the editorial pages. It's the so-called news that is often slanted, skewed, and incomplete. While Don is right that we have way too much opinion info disguised as news, we also have daily propaganda being digested as truth.

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  5. I would bet there is more than half that will vote for him now.

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  6. I would not trust the medias' "facts". For example, now even Fox News will not publish anything which is pro-Trump. CNN admitted it long ago, but now Fox News is on board with it.

    Face it. There are no real facts coming out of the media these days.

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    1. Randy says: There’s a reason Fox scrapped the slogan, “We report, You decide.” Now it’s “We’ll decide, You’ll agree.”

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  7. To regain trust, ditch the Lefties.

    All of them. In any and all fields.

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  8. Used to be the st Pete times. When the Tampa tribune folded it changed it's name. Nobody was fooled, still the same commie rag.

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    1. Randy says: I lived in Clearwater for a while. The Tampa Tribune has always been flamingly leftist, but the St. Pete Times seemed more middle-of-the-road. But that was 30 years ago.

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    2. Randy says: Back when waitresses at The Original Hooters wore midriff-baring tank tops and butt-baring short shorts. Ah, good times!

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    3. Unaware of any mid to large city FL newspapers that are not flaming leftists; however, their circulation area is full of flaming leftists. I live in Ft Laud and, most weeks, the Sun-Sentinel comes down on "luv our guv" at least 4 times. The one that puzzles me is the Miami Herald, a paper just as critical of DeSantis as the Sun-Sentinel amid a circulation of area that is trending kind of purple the last few cycles.

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  9. I was in the Newspaper business over the years. circulation.

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    1. Yes, circulation, declining leaps and bounds. We're cursed here in Arizona with the Arizona Repulsive, a Gannett piece of garbage propaganda, hemorrhaging subscribers daily.

      HPB

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  10. Saw the local paper degenerate into the lefty rag three day a week abomination that it is now.

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  11. Dumping on half of your audience is okay, as long as the narrative is sustained. After all, it's their religion. Nowadays, it's looking more like suicide. They just can't let go.

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  12. The nice thing is their audience is getting so small - there is hardly no one else to lose.

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  13. I wrote editorials to be illuminating, not incendiary. Don’t tell readers what to think; explain why they should and give them enough information to make their own decisions. For reporters, we told them, “write so that tomorrow you can look back and still fee proud of what you wrote. Bring your skills, but little baggage.”

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  14. Here in Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel has already done that--the opinion section has been reduced to once a week on Sundays, and it consists of letters to the editor and op-eds (carefully curated--can't let those darn conservatives have a voice!) not official editorials.

    It doesn't mean a thing, because the entire news section is the paper's unofficial editorial page, and everyone knows it. Trust is long gone, and with the paring down of letters and op-eds, reader engagement is gone, too.

    Now, the paper's just waiting to die.

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  15. 35 years ago a fellow who worked with me referred to the "orlando slantinel." Nothing new.

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  16. Media lost me over 20 years ago when I started really seeing the word choices designed to make the reader achieve the desired viewpoint.

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  17. The cable news is nothing but editorial opinions. Every news worthy weather event,forest fire,shooting,traffic pile up,ect... becomes a partisan debate with no middle ground. Even legislation becomes a conversation on which party benefits more without any real reporting on what is actually in the legislation and how it will affect the Country as a whole.

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  18. Better yet, they should stop presenting Leftist opinion as news.

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  19. Actually, the editorial pages are fine, IMHO. Papers and other media just need to keep opinions on the editorial pages and report straight news with "just the facts, ma'am."

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  20. My theory is that when Mark Twain was a journalist it was a second career, and current events could be treated in the context of the real world. Now the profession is full of people with no experience other than indoctrination in leftist ideology, without knowing a single person with real life experience or an alternate view

    Jason

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  21. The Tampa editorial is one of a bazillion reasons why people hate the media and distrust it. Not only is DeSantis within his Constitution to do this but people by and large want the laws enforced. There is no saving the news industry because the other problem is opinion pieces are written and passed off as news articles which makes them propaganda.

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