Monday, January 10, 2005

Fumble

As stated before, Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson has moved from the Metro front Page to the editorial page. Sunday marked his first column in that spot and in doing so wrote a very revealing and interesting column. Not very often to journalists talk about the world behind the velvet ropes. Well, they talk about it all the time, but not so directly as Peter did. He talked about how he had a column spiked this year by the Editor.
When I started out as editor of the Enquirer editorial department in 1992, we almost never punted. But by the time I left 10 years later to be a columnist, it seemed like we punted all the time. I wanted to throw right, but the head coach (now gone) wanted to run off left tackle or up the middle. So we punted.

I don't do that anymore. Or at least, I try not to. Once this year, I had to punt, but that was the coach's call.

When the Mike Allen scandal broke, I wrote a column urging Allen to resign, pointing out that I once supervised the woman who accused him of sexual harassment, Rebecca Collins, when she was a clerk in our editorial department.

Editor Tom Callinan decided I should stay on the bench and avoid piling on if I might end up as part of the story. It was a good call. But I hated to punt.

I don't know how much of this inside-the-huddle stuff is interesting to readers, but thousands of e-mails, phone calls and letters have convinced me that most of our subscribers are very curious about what goes on behind the gray walls of the Enquirer Wheaties box at Third and Elm.
Now two interesting things here. First, I am torn on whether Bronson's column should have run, calling for Allen's resignation. It would a refreshingly principled position to take, but Callinan was right to not have Bronson become part of the story. Bronson in a way was, and is now with admission, shoring up his reputation as a conservative prude. Something I think he would consider a positive.

The second element of the column is nothing but a swipe at the editorial staff. He claims that the former publisher or editor, referenced as "head coach" wanted to take things to the "left," and which I read to mean that he thinks he was forced out as chief of the Editorial pages because he was to conservative. I have to ask what significant positions has the board taken which he would think are so radically off base to his views? Where will his opinions divert from the editorial board? They support Bush, and the War in Iraq. They are not keen on abortion. The only difference I can see is on gay rights, and maybe some economic policy, but Bronson rarely delves into the dollars and cents issues.

My belief as to the underlying reason for Bronon's shuffle is that he is going to write nothing but politically based opinion, which I think he prefers. Instead of the assignment articles that have been called columns in the Metro Section.

What I wish the Enquirer would do is to offer up a counter voice to the right wing views of Bronson on its editorial pages. I know they have national liberal columns there, but nothing on a local basis. We get no local retort to Bronson's attacks on the city for not letting the police rule with an iron fist. We get no retorts to Bronson's attack on teachers or on liberals in general. His conservative voice will be front and center on local issues and maybe sometimes there may be a guest columnist on an issue, but no one, unless something else is planned, will have a chance to give the paper the balance I believe they are trying to provide.

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