Readers Respond - 03/21/06

Readers Respond – Publisher's Corner – March 21, 2006
by Dale Tyler

This week we received a comment, posted using the “Comment” button on our website from one of our readers:

Allan Pilger writes:

Although the blog has a lot of useful information, it is overshadowed by personal attacks on Lance MacLean, Trish Kelley and Frank Ury. As a defunct newspaper editor and publisher, I assure that you will not achieve mainstream readership with attack journalism. If you goal is to get Lance and Trish voted out of office and turn the community against Frank, then you should come right out and say it. I certainly don't agree with any council member on everything, and there is plenty of controversial stuff going on to fill a blog by sticking to the issues. Attacks merely worsen tension and animosity. Also, what Mission Viejo doesn't need is a council campaign marked by smear flyers.

My response:

First of all, let me thank you for taking the time to share your opinion. Over the years, we have worked together on a number of issues and as sometimes happens, we disagree, in this case on the nature of the comments made in our NewsBlog. First, let me be clear on this point: none of the articles are intended to be personal attacks on anyone. Personal attacks, in my view, concern the non official conduct of an individual. For example, it would not be appropriate to write about a person's hygiene, family or job, unless the family or job was part of a larger public issue. We do point out the professional failings of members of the city council, planning commission and other public figures. When I criticize Frank Ury, it is because I fell his actions are not in the best interest of the city. Likewise Trish Kelly and Lance Maclean and anyone else who is mentioned by name or inference in the NewsBlog. I feel that it is appropriate to bring notice to the individual who has done something wrong or ill advised as a part of their duties. If you read some of the early literature of our country you will find similar strongly worded criticism of the king and his agents. While I am hardly the equal of our founding fathers, I do like their writing style. On the other hand, a cold and dispassionate statement of the problems in our city, as you seem to prefer, would not be nearly as entertaining or informative, in my opinion.

You once told me that people read local newspapers because of the letters. Those letters are irreverent and sometimes caustic in their presentation. Yet people enjoy reading the unvarnished opinions of others more than they want to read the dull prose of local newspapers. The NewsBlog is like those letters, sometimes a little raw, but always with the best of intentions and with a genuine desire to change the city for the better.

Finally, you are concerned about worsening animosity and a smear campaign for the next city council race in November. It is never fun to have one's hero criticized in a public forum. Some of the loudest critics of the NewsBlog are hardly shy about their own criticism of council members they disagree with. Unfortunately, local politics is a dirty game and I suspect that the only way the NesBlog would satisfy some of those critics would be to mindlessly praise the good works of their favorites. Fortunately, that won't happen, at least on my watch. We will continue to point out the foibles and failings of those who seek to lead us.

Notwithstanding the desire to have our feelings heard, all of the writers for the NewsBlog are held to a high standard of truthfulness. Where facts and not opinions are being presented, we strive for complete accuracy in our presentation. Occasionally I hear people affiliated with certain city officials claiming that there are errors in the NewsBlog. Yet, when asked to document those errors, we receive no information. While there surely must be some errors in the tens of thousands of words we have published, no one has seen fit to correct any statements of fact.

I would like to invite more reader responses and , especially, correction of facts in the NewsBlog. It's pretty easy to send in a comment or correction. Just fill in your name and comment on the form found either on the front page of each issue or on the text-only version of the NewsBlog. Just like the Orange County Register or any other newspaper, we will print comments that are cogent, to the point and that do not contain errors of fact. Comments dealing with issues not related to city or county issues will not be considered. Be sure and check the Contact Me box if you wish to have your comment printed, and of course, give us a phone number or email address so that we may contact you.