Op-ed page is like a box of chocolates | SierraSun.com

Op-ed page is like a box of chocolates

To borrow somewhat from a movie starring a brilliant dimwit, editing a newspaper can be a lot like a box of chocolates. You never quite know what response you’re going to get, although sometimes you have a pretty good idea that it’ll be the gooey, cherry cough medicine-filled kind of day.

So it was Wednesday after I ran the “Armchair politics ” it’s all in the family” column from Bob Sweigert. Yes, Bob’s column started out on the edge, and that elicited a bit of reader response. The piece moved into the political realm, which elicited the remainder of the response.

“Hmmmm,” I said to myself as I read the column before you all did. “I thought Bob was the touchy-feely, liberally type, not a touchy-feely conservative type.”

Did Bob’s last column push the envelope as far as taste and his view of coed gyms? Yes.

Did it as far as his views on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq? No.

I’m still sorting the “off-with-his-head” comments; those on the “tasteless” side of things versus “he’s a conservative nincompoop.”

Could I have squashed his column for the “sexist” overtones? Yes. However, as far as all five of Bob’s previous columns that have run in the Sierra Sun, I thought they were pretty good, so Bob got the benefit of the doubt.

Now, in hindsight, the doubt for me filters in more on the taste side of things rather than the politics. We’ve had guest columnists and letter writers of all stripes submit their views to the paper. And no matter how liberal or conservative they are they get printed. That’s why it’s called the OPINION section, which is biased by definition. As a former editor of mine used to remind readers, the opinion page is by nature controversial and adversarial.

That, however, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t strive to be tasteful. As one reader wrote, “I thought this was a family newspaper…” Well, we are a community newspaper, as such we should reflect, to a fair degree, the community’s sense of taste.

But as far as the opinion page and politics, it’s going to be like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get.

Jamie Bate is editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at jbate@sierrasun.com.

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