So I thought I would add my bit to today’s Town Talk editorial opinion piece by Cynthia Jardon:
Now, I don’t find it odd that Ms. Jardon reads CenLamar. We do, after all, read the TT, opposing blogs, agreeing blogs, local, national, and international publications, and all sorts of other online sources. It’s how you know what’s going on and how you learn what others are thinking — whether you agree with them or not.
I personally think that CenLamar, particularly under Lamar’s guidance, has been quite careful not to criticize The Town Talk (in general) and, in particular, Cynthia Jardon (personally) too heavily because she and the paper’s staff do have to answer to the corporate giant that owns The Town Talk. I know he’s personally encouraged me not to be too hard on her in the past.
However, today, The Town Talk did two interesting things. First, they attempted to defend their right-leaning position by pointing out that only the “Our View” section is the Paper’s Editorial and thus the opinion of record. Yet that “Our View,” often authored by Jardon, has, for the past several years, been almost universally conservative and right-leaning in its slant. In addition to “Our View,” the paper often includes editorials by Mr. Carty — the TT’s Editor in Chief. Now I must ask, when the Editor of the paper uses a page of copy to express his personal views, is that not also an editorial or official opinion of the paper?
Adding to this, the paper selects syndicated columnists to provide opinionated input, as well as opinions from other regions. These are almost always very conservative. And, rarely do they focus on local issues.
Now is there anything wrong with presenting conservative opinions or opinion pieces that some readers may find too far right-leaning for their liking? No. Not at all.
However, the standard for Op/Ed sections for most of the modern journalistic era has been that opinions and editorials are presented as opposing pairs. A view for an issue is generally mated with an opposing view against that issue, leaving the reader to use their own brain to determine the best of the two.
The Town Talk did this at one time, sometimes they even included opposing editorials from among their own staff — fiery debates from informed journalists with the integrity to present both sides of an issue.
Prior to The Town Talk‘s purchase by Gannett, the paper was also officially politically independent. Of course these days, The Town Talk very ardently selects their candidate of choice, slants its reporting toward that candidate, and eventually (long after it becomes obvious) endorses that candidate. Their track record of late has been amazing: Bobby Jindal for his “ethics,” Mike Slocum for his “track record,” and John McCain. Here we are 6 months after the election, and they are still politicking for McCain by disparaging much of Obama presents as bad for the people of CenLa (with no opposing view).
A second thing that has increasingly annoyed me in recent years has been Ms. Jardon’s selection of “Your View” letters for print. One would hope that The Town Talk receives far more letters from readers than they have room to print. But the fact that they have given near syndication to the extremist views of ultra-rightwing contributors such as Ruth Barden and Francis Elliot makes the reader wonder what opinions The Town Talk is truly interested in; what is the difference between being a serial (published) letter writer and a columnist? Along with this, they have printed article after article with certain views, but only a fraction opposing those views. Some would surely argue that our community is simply that much more conservative than the rest of the country on these issues, but our demographics and reader responses on The Town Talk‘s own forums tell us otherwise. During the recent presidential election, The Town Talk even chose to publish numerous “Your View” pieces from contributors in completely different parts of the country. I find it hard to believe that people in small towns in Iowa and North Carolina just happen to be such avid readers of The Town Talk that they felt the need to express their political views in a Central Louisiana paper. What’s even more amazing is that every single one of these “views” were always very conservative in nature. This sort of pattern is alarming.
Interestingly, Ms. Jardon failed to defend The Town Talk‘s integrity or neutrality in her piece. Instead, she used her most valuable weekly printed real estate — her Sunday column, to personally attack Lamar and this blog and blogging in general. Perhaps the tone of Lamar’s three paragraphs about the TT being shut out of the awards was a bit snarky. But for the opinion editor of the local paper of record to use her most important weekly column to discuss and disparage this blog is an incredible response.
First, Ms. Jardon fails to recognize the pride that a community (this blog’s writers included) have for their local newspaper. Choosing not to even enter award’s competitions robs the community of a major piece of local pride.
The Town Talk did another thing today. Enmeshed in Ms. Jardon’s semi-personal, semi-attacks of Lamar, the paper of record for Central Louisiana gave official recognition to what many would consider the blog of record for our region.
It leaves me to ask, if blogs are the minor player, the amateur non-journalists that the newspaper industry argues they are, then why did a major regional publication owned and controlled by one of the nation’s biggest media companies spend their editorial resources of the week telling everyone in Cenla about one?
So thank you Town Talk for recognizing the competition…