This, that and the other thing….

What, no letters to the editor?

OK, we have no letters to the editor for today’s editorial page. It pains me. That’s in large part because when I travel for personal or business reasons out of state and naturally want to review local newspapers, it is the editorial page and the letters page that I enjoy most. They let you know the issues of the day and what people have to say about those issue.

Additionally, the Minot Daily News letters page on Sunday is often cited by readers as a favorite.

So no letters to the editor this week is confounding.

Yes I know people are traveling and it is North Dakota State Fair time. Yes, I recognize it’s a slow news period so you – our readers – have less to comment on, and many are tuned out for summer and enjoying weekends at one of our lakes.

Still, the county is considering raising taxes and tax increases generally attract reader comments. City of Minot council members are headed to a retreat to discuss a variety of issues. Typically that attracts letter writers. Any number of economic issues we’re facing now generally prompt commentary.

This week? Nothing. So, if you are curious why we don’t have reader letters this week, it isn’t an editorial decision. Readers simply haven’t sent us any, even though I’ve requested them from readers who’ve called or written me recently with interesting thoughts.

If you have an opinion on an issue relevant to our region or even a global issue with local impact, send it to me. I don’t care what the opinion is – I just want to provide readers with an open forum for debate.

Yes it’s summer in North Dakota and life is easy. But meanwhile the world is changing and we would love to hear your thoughts on those changes. Or on state, city, county or federal policy.

Don’t ever feel like your opinions aren’t important or thought provoking. Every comment is. You just have to go to the effort to share them with MDN, your only 24/7/365 local news source. We want to hear from you.

Reader submissions

I feel like I’ve written this a thousand times the past few years, but once again I wanted to remind the local creative community that we very much want to feature you and your work in our Arts section. It’s easy and your work will get attention.

One can be a great artist of any kind, but if no one knows, what’s the purpose? It’s like writing a great novel that one never offers to the public. I’m pretty easy to reach. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you’re in the creative class. We will find a way to bring you to public attention. What do you have to lose?

Wire service failures

The single most frequent complaint I receive from readers doesn’t have anything to do with local news coverage. Instead, it is about the bias – real and perceived – of wire service stories. I have also shared that many editors feel the often far left leaning of wire service news is problematic. Truth is that the past two years, national and international wire services have just reflected mainstream East Coast media.

More evidence was apparent last week. After the sad Q&A with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a veteran journalist could predict the wire headline. Headlines followed the progressive perspective and that of many in media- that Mueller didn’t “exonerate” President Trump.

OK, true. Except…. “exonerate” isn’t really a legal term. According to Vocabulary.com: “To exonerate someone is to declare him not guilty of criminal charges.” Well, in order to be found not guilty of criminal charges, one would have to be charged in the first place. No prosecutor or judge has the legal option to “exonerate” anyone. It’s just a word.

Yet that was the general theme of the wire service coverage (and many other media outlets that covered the testimony). It isn’t really news – the report is freely available to the public and media already spent days and days on the “exonerate” angle.

Personally I felt like the theme, in all honesty, was that it was much ado about nothing. It was theater for presidential candidates to rail against the president and for representatives from both parties to play politics. It was a waste of time. A secondary angle could have been a focus on Mueller and his… lack of preparation and seeming unawareness of some aspects of the investigation.

Wire services, like many in media, don’t do a very good job at dispelling the perception of bias. One has to wonder if they even care since those who cover Washington live in an echo chamber where there isn’t a lot of philosophical diversity.

It’s definitely a problem.

So, those many, many of you who have commented, it’s not just you. My personal opinion and the opinion of plenty of other journalists is it’s a problem wire service boards or administrators should address.


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