"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, March 3, 2014

OKC mayor election & front page editorials--Yes!

Front page editorials. How dare newspapers do that?
 They used to be discussed and cussed in Oklahoma on a regular basis, until a few years ago when the then Daily Oklahoman ceased publishing the always conservative, political opinion pieces on candidates and issues, clearly labeled at the top of the page.
This week, with the Oklahoma City mayoral election tomorrow, another publication has come out with a clearly-labeled front page editorial, endorsing Ed Shadid over the incumbent Mick Cornett.
The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper serving downtown, carried the editorial. Patrick McGuigan, former editorial writer for The Oklahoman, and a true-believer conservative, publishes the paper.
People who protest such an activity as biased, inappropriate journalism are flat out ignorant of American journalism history. Front page editorials have a long history in this country. They go back all the way to the beginnings in colonial times, and later when every political faction had a newspaper in town.
They've gone away because the press is increasingly corporate, and tries not to offend anyone to protect shareholders' investments. In the process, much of the press has become namby-pamby  milktoast publications that are boring and spineless. Corporates can't seem to figure out why they're losing readers.
Another approach is sometimes seen in thinly-disguised hatchet jobs masquerading as "investigative journalism," where one issue or candidate opposing corporate owners' positions is attacked. The opposite tack is taken in running almost verbatim PR releases from outfits and candidates supported by corporates.
That's why I applaud The City Sentinel and Pat for courageously taking a stand. You don't have to agree with him, but at least you know it's honest journalism. And it builds readers and integrity, especially with a well-reasoned editorial, rather than using propaganda tactics like name calling and target words like "liberal" and conservative."
McGuiggan's first few sentences show that reasoning:
     "After 13 years with the current mayor in office (ten as mayor, three on the Council), it is time for a fresh voice and a stronger focus on the broader needs and issues for all Oklahoma City residents.
     "For the first time in The City Sentinel’s history, we formally endorse a candidate for public office. The newspaper supports Dr. Ed Shadid, the Ward 2 council member, in the Tuesday, March 4 election.
     "This endorsement is an expression of support for the challenger, not a slap at the incumbent.
    "Shadid aims to establish a more inclusive government. He has spoken to hundreds of groups and thousands of local residents — some of whom say their input in city matters has rarely or never been solicited.

    "Many to whom Shadid has spoken have long felt disenfranchised from city government. Ours is not just a downtown city; its entire 640 square miles still has a long way to go, he says. And, he is right."
Check the link above it you want to keep reading.
Two disclaimers. I can't vote in the election, so technically, it doesn't matter to me. Second, McGuigan and I are far apart when it comes to political philosophy, but that's ok. We  can disagree, respect each other, and enjoy conversation and journalism. It matters not to me which candidate he endorsed, as long as he did so with reasoning. 
As a former weekly newspaper publisher of the Waurika News-Democrat, I wrote front page editorials rarely, and always for significant issues, like urging a bond issue for a new grade school. I remember clearly  one quote, "A newspaper that doesn't stand for something, stands for nothing."
Well-reasoned front page editorials like The City Sentinel's are good news for Oklahoma journalism, and Oklahomans.

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