March 2nd, 2016

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Is the Plain Dealer trying to confuse readers, simply trying to have it both ways, or just flopping around? I think maybe the latter, unfortunately.

Chris Quinn, vice president of content, Cleveland.com (Whatever happened to editors?), writes that the Plain Dealer will endorse candidates but that’s not the end, as I think it used to be.

The paper made a choice. The paper advised readers of its choice and asked them to follow it. For good or bad.

Now a new recipe: Here’s our choice! But you may not like it. So here’s another choice, too. We aim to please.

Here’s how I guess it will work:

On Sunday we were greeted on the Forum front page with an editorial endorsement: Re-elect Prosecutor McGinty with a cartoon figure that I presume was of Timothy McGinty.

Good advice anyway.

I thought the choice was made.

But just below was a hedge: Editorial: Alternative view. What?

They didn’t endorse? They can’t make up their minds?

The second editorial had a cartoon figure that was supposed to be Michael O’Malley. He’s also running for County Prosecutor. The headline was “O’Malley’s consensus style is appealing.” Which was a bunch of bullshit.

However, it fit the new PD editorial position. Essentially taking a position and running away from it too.

What kind of editorial posture is that?

The paper did the same thing Wednesday. It endorsed PG Sittenfeld as its candidate for the Democratic Ohio Governor. This was labeled: “Majority view.” What? Who made up that majority?

Just below was a headline: “Strickland’s experience makes him superior.” This was labeled the Minority View.

You can’t have it both ways and be honest with the public.

Quinn explains it this way:

The structure of the new approach makes for cleaner endorsements. They become the strongest argument we can make in favor of the candidate we support, leaving the argument against that candidate for the opposing view.

It’s not cleaner. It’s confusing. It’s messy. It’s ducking. It’s not leadership at all.
You have to make choices. You can’t beggar your choice with a maybe.

Opposing your editorial position is the place for letters to the editor.

Quinn also writes:

As we analyzed how we might grow, we considered that in today’s polarized America, people have gravitated to media outlets that fit their beliefs. We wondered whether we might divide our opinion content between right and left and set up opinion pages on our website for each. That way, conservatives would feast on opinion pieces espousing their beliefs and engage with others of like minds, and liberals could do the same.

What’s disturbing is the comment that “people have gravitated to media outlets that fit their beliefs.”

Quinn wants to satisfy both. That’s not the duty of a newspaper.

Quinn should know that.

Try to be all things to all people and you are nothing.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. One political office-holder provided another strong reason that this dual “endorsement” would be open to misuse.

    “As a practical matter, candidates who don’t get endorsed will put out literature saying,

    “Plain Dealer says! and then quote from the alternative viewpoint, never mentioning that they weren’t endorsed.”

    It’s thus made for misuse.


  2. Garry Kanter says:

    Their words have no meaning.

    Which is bad when you’re The Newspaper of Record.

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