A reader called this past week with two issues regarding their community newspaper, questioning both our political fairness and our sense of humor.
The first issue was in regard to the editorial page. The reader noted we had featured liberal columnists Cokie and Steven Roberts, and questioned whether the Chronicle intended to be fair and balanced or push only a liberal viewpoint “like all the other newspapers out there.”
I can’t be sure, as the caller didn’t leave a name, but I suspect the reference was to the March 16-17 edition, in which I sought balance not by counterpointing a liberal columnist like Cokie Roberts with a more conservative voice like Kathryn Jean Lopez or Byron York, as I usually do, but a trio of cartoons.
Why? I actually had something to say — a very community-oriented, non-partisan something — so I used three cartoons suggesting that the Democrats are misguided in seeking a socialist agenda for America as the counter-balance. Are three cartoons sufficient balance to 1,000 words or so? And given that these cartoonists typically trend liberal, not conservative, can a specific cartoon by any one of them have any conservative weight at all?
I’m not sure; I personally don’t find the world so easily divided into partisan chunks as our current political climate suggests I should.
In a perfect world, I would be getting so many letters and guest opinions from readers I would not need any outside columnists at all. There is nothing more fair or balanced than giving citizens an open forum in which to speak their mind.
But all that is, perhaps, beside the point, given the more serious nature of the caller’s second complaint: that The Dalles Chronicle cut the only funny comic strip on the Comic page.
For those without a sense of humor, or who don’t think ANY of our comics are funny, the caller was referencing the loss of “Pearls Before Swine,” by Stephan Pastis.
On this issue, I have to agree with our irate caller—that WAS our best and funniest cartoon.
Why did we cut it?
Stephan Pastis himself explains it well in the comic strip above, used here by permission.
As an editor, I have only so much control, and I sacrifice what I must to the overriding importance of maintaining a newsroom staff. Without journalists, the information they provide and the questions they ask, there would be no Chronicle.
But don’t worry, government is GOOD now.
—Mark Gibson is editor of The Dalles Chronicle.