Earlier today, I (and several stealthyliberal pals) made our way to the Register’s offices at Grand Ave. for a “Meet the Publisher”Â lunch with Register publisher Terry Horne.Â I estimate the crowd at about 150 people, mostly older Orange Countians feasting on a vareity of box lunches and cold water.Â
My purpose for going was to ask a question and make a request, but I didn’t see the place where you were supposed to write a question in advance (an easy way to make sure really tough questions won’t be answered) and I wasn’t called on despite raising my hand every single time there was a pause for a new question.Â Then I had to leave for a meeting.Â I’ve done the tour of the paper with my Cub Scout troop, so I’m good to go there but must confess a certain joy at watching presses run.
Mr. Horne seems like a nice enough guy.Â He recounted his newspaper career and referenced his time in Kansas where he was “proud to know all three Democrats in the state of Kansas” which got a chuckle from the crowd, but not us humorless Liberals.Â He proudly proclaimed the Register the country’s largest libertarian newspaper, but had to explain what a libertarian was to the crowd.Â He also recounted a Time Magazine story about newspapers most likely to fail this year and noted the story usedÂ a single-source; a post from a blogger with an axe to grind whcih wasn’t based in actual research (like an Adam Probolsky column).Â He said he almost cancelled his Time subscription (or failed to renew it) because of the story.Â He also got into extensive detail on the troubles facing the newspaper industry.
The Register is profitable, he told those there.Â Most papers are.Â But disruptive innovations from the Internets (yes, he used the word “Internets”) is cutting into the paper’s ad revenue.Â Dramatically.Â I just have to wonder, if the paper is profitable, why the layoffs and why the furloughs (and why Probolsky as a local columnist)?
My question is pretty simple, but it’s a two-parter:Â Shouldn’t a newspaper reflect the values of the community it serves?
The answer should be : Yes.
The second part is: Since the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe, all considered liberal newspapers, have conservative columnists (with the New York Times going as far to say if your letter to the editor promotes a conservative point of view, it’s more likely to be published),why is there no center-left voice in the Register’s Opinion pages?Â I mean they have George Will , Mark Steyn (who’s not even American for gosh sake’s), David Brooks, Star Parker, John Stossel et al.Â The best lefties can ever do is a “Reader Rebuttal.”Â I think we get an Orange Grove column once in a blue moon or whenever an albino dolphin washes up at Laguna Beach.Â We get the crappy end of the stick on FreedomPolitics.com as well.
There are a half million registered Democratic voters in Orange County; that’s more than twice the Register’s daily circulation and six times more than the number of registered Libertarians in the state.Â It’s not like I’m asking for equal time (fair and balanced?); I’m asking for one.Â
So the Register’s center/hard right tilt with no center-left columnist doesn’t reflect the views of 500,000 plus (there are liberals not registered to vote and many of them young people) effectively alienates a large market opportunity for new readers.Â Plus, adding a lefty columnist would likely cause the right wing readers to overload the Letters to the Editor staff with screeds about allowing some pinko commie drivel in the paper.Â
I have a journalism degree.Â I always thought the editorial pages were there to stimulate debate, but it’s kind of hard to do when the conversation is only one sided.Â If Mr. Horne himself can justify cancelling his subscription to Time Magazine over a story, doesn’t that give me license to cancel my Register subscription for the same reason?