Brian Sandford: Here’s our policy for columnists who are locking horns
Readers aren’t shy when telling me what they like about the Nevada Appeal, which I greatly appreciate. They also aren’t shy about telling me what they don’t like, which I equally appreciate.
That feedback informs the decisions I make regarding newsroom policies. My mission is to guide this newspaper to be the best it can be for the largest number of readers possible, and I can’t do that without your help.
Recently, a number of people have told me they “don’t like all the sniping” — either in the letters to the editor or among our political columnists. And we’ve indeed had some of the latter in recent days.
Bo Statham wrote a column about the virtues of government that elicited a strong reaction, as a thought-provoking column often does. Fellow columnists Guy W. Farmer and Ron Knecht had a different viewpoint, and both shared it. Bo wasn’t inclined to write a response, but former Appeal columnist Eugene Paslov, whose political views align more closely with Bo’s than with Guy’s and Ron’s, was. His piece, published Thursday, became the third column spurred by what Bo had written.
I emailed all our columnists early last week explaining my policy for taking one another on in print, and it’d be good for readers to hear it. Basically, it’s OK to rebut what another columnist has written, but that person then is allowed to respond with his/her thoughts. And then the issue is retired. It doesn’t serve our readers to be exposed to endless debate about an ever-moldier issue, like a drawn-out print version of “The McLaughlin Group.”
As I’ve written in the past, I err on the side of free speech when making decisions about whether to print a column or letter, which is why I don’t mind political columnists mentioning one another’s work as long as there are no personal attacks. And I trust them all not to do that; most of them met one another at a very civil and comfortable lunch over the summer and will do so again next summer.
This column is now the fourth spurred by Bo’s original piece. And now the issue is retired.
Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.