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updated: 9/30/2011 2:37 PM

Talk with the Editor: The little biases we all have

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Let's see, shall we start with the tea party or with Walter Payton? Or maybe with the Tampa Bay Rays and my dad?

It's a Friday afternoon, and I'm trying to get several things off the editor's plate because I'll be out of the office next week and I'm not sure how often I'll be able to touch bases with you.

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Let's start with the format. A few of you have said it's cumbersome to try to wade through old comments to comment anew. So beginning today, we're going to try each column as a separate entity. If you want to check on previous comments, click the links to older installments. We'll see how that goes. As I said on Day One, this column is an evolution.

Perhaps we'll try to designate one day a week to responding to comments I haven't been able to get to previously. Let me know what you think about that.

Meanwhile, the tea party and Walter Payton.

A preface to those subjects: People talk about bias in the news media, and that's an interesting subject. The short answer is of course, there's bias. The news media is made up of people, and people have biases. As a newspaper covering the community, we strive to be objective and we work hard to put individual biases aside. I think we do a good job of that, but we're imperfect. Of course, we are. Perfection is a goal but not an attainable one.

So, how does this relate to the tea party?

Well, it relates this way. The tea party is in town, holding a convention in the suburbs this weekend. Some people love the tea party. Some people hate it. Emotions may not be quite that strong on either side, but close. But whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying the tea party has been a significant political movement.

And that's what we're covering this weekend. The phenomenon. It's not our job to be boosters for it. It's not our job to make jokes about it. It's our job to cover the phenomenon that's having a party in our suburbs.

As I sit here this morning, I'm willing to bet that to some degree or another, our coverage will get complaints of bias from both sides.

What's Walter Payton got to do with it? People have biases about Walter Payton too.

Let me say, the stuff about Walter Payton in the new book has made me cringe. Like many of you, I imagine, I've thought to myself, is it important to get all of his personal failings out there? He's been dead for more than a decade? What purpose does it serve? It seems so intrusive.

So personally, my impulse is one of disgust more by the reporting of it than by what's in the reports.

See? That's a bias too. Biases aren't just political.

As an editor, my perspective is that Walter was -- still is -- a larger-than-life hero. And there is value, therefore, in understanding the full texture of the man. We need to appreciate that our heroes are not cartoon characters. That a person can be imperfect and still be a hero.

I'm interested in your thoughts on all that.

Meanwhile, as we head into the weekend. Is there any way the MLB playoffs can be any more spectacular than the historic Wild Card chases were? The way they ended was the way Hollywood would have ended them.

My heart goes out to fans of the Red Sox and Braves. That said, here's a bias I'll share with you. I'm pulling for the Rays. My dad died recently, and though he was a lifelong Yankees fan (and hater of the Red Sox), he also became a big fan of the Rays after he retired to Tampa.

He told me last spring that the Rays would be good this year. With all the stars they lost last winter, I thought he was kidding himself.

As it turns out, they began their historic chase to overtake Boston almost from the day Dad died near the end of August. When Evan Longoria provided the storybook finish Wednesday night, the first thought that came to me was, "I think Dad's pulling some strings."

I don't really believe that. But maybe I do.

Have a great weekend.

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