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.”
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.
Posted by Don Surber at 8/06/2022 11:00:00 AM