Letter from Editor: Our views influence what we cover, but not how

  • John Lampinen

    John Lampinen

Posted11/4/2019 2:00 AM

A few of us were having a lively conversation the other day, sparked by a topic on a wire service summary of upcoming stories.

The story advanced in The Associated Press summary was a piece about a movement to eliminate daylight saving time.


Like anybody, I have my personal views on a lot of things. And one of them is daylight saving time.

To me, one of the joys of summer is how late the sun stays up, and one of the dreads of winter is how early it gets dark.

If it was up to me, we'd have daylight saving time year round. Short of that, I cling jealously to the half-year daylight saving time we have -- even though I accept that statistics show a harmful effect on health that is undeniable during the days of transition.

Understand, this is not a cursory opinion, even if it might seem like it should be. I am passionate about it.

Give me my daylight saving time!

I mention this because some people think the news media has an agenda.

That is not true to this extent:

I have not put out a call to the newsroom to develop a story that defends daylight saving time. And I have not put a kibosh on any stories that criticize it.

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But it would be silly for me to think that my interests have no effect on my news judgments or the flavor of the paper.

On Saturday, we published that wire story about the daylight saving time debate. I didn't read it in advance to see if it had a point of view, much less to see if it had one that agreed with mine.

I trusted our wire editors to edit it professionally.

However, my interest was not inconsequential: Because I thought the debate is interesting, I believed our readers would likely find it interesting.

Maybe true, maybe not, but that story was in the paper Saturday either way.

I'm human. I have views on Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, the gun rights/gun control debate, recreational marijuana, the graduated income tax, and myriad other things.

But in all my years as the Editor with a capital E, I've never once said let's do a story that makes this politician look good or bad; never once said let's do a story that promotes this point of view.

What I do say is, for example: The impeachment debate is a major issue facing the country; we have an obligation to give it the coverage and the prominence such a historic debate demands.

My interests undoubtedly do have some effect on what I see as important and to that extent, they do have some influence in what I ask us to cover -- but not in how we cover it.

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