Under fire

Published 11:34 pm Saturday, January 21, 2017

Since the presidential election in November, the Enid News & Eagle in Enid, Okla., has come under fire for their public endorsement of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on their Editorial/Opinion page. One could see right away that a newspaper in a very dominant Republican state, which endorses a Democrat nominee, was definitely going to hear about it.

Since the endorsement the newspaper has lost more than 200 subscribers and 11 advertisers.

But why was this wrong of the newspaper? Simple — it was not. Although I personally did not agree with their stance, I applaud them for taking one and standing behind it. Newspapers all across our country are becoming more and more unimportant to their communities for the simple reason that they are afraid to take a stand for fear of retaliation that could affect their bottom line. So they continue to play it safe, write about local events, cover local meetings and report on local crimes, while all along they are becoming less and less important.

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Had losing importance not been the case for many local newspapers, this endorsement would not have ever been an issue. Newspapers would have never fallen off of the very foundation that our industry was built upon. And readers would understand that taking a stand in a newspaper is commonplace, not a surprise.

Few newspapers do what the Enid News & Eagle did. The publisher of the Eagle, Jeff Funk, is a good friend of mine. We worked together when I was a publisher in Oklahoma before coming to Texas. Jeff is a great person and runs a great local newspaper for the community of Enid. He understands what a newspaper is, should be and it’s responsibility to the community.

The editorial or opinion page of a newspaper has been referred to as “The soul of a newspaper.” For it is here that the mindset and taste of a newspaper is reflected. The policy and stand of the newspaper on the burning issues of the day are projected through the editorials. And diverse opinions focusing on different issues are presented. However, over the years this has become less so for some. The rest of the newspaper is reserved for fact-based reporting.

An opinion by a newspaper is simply that, an opinion. No different than an opinion you might make every day. Outside of the newspaper, individuals across communities share personal opinions over social media like it was water flowing from a tap. But when a newspaper does so on an opinion page, it’s viewed differently?

We, as individuals, need to understand that not always will we agree with each other on topics. And that is OK to disagree. In addition, we need to look at what it is that we are truly against. Is it the opinion itself, or that the opinion is different than our own that is frustrating. If it is the latter, then maybe the issue is on the receiving end, and not the topic.