I received an e-mail from a reader this week who said he and his colleagues would boycott businesses that advertise with the Steamboat Pilot & Today so long as we continue to carry Ann Coulter's columns.
I contacted the person and told him we would continue running Coulter despite his threat. (You can find this week's column on page 6 of today's newspaper.) I then offered to run his e-mail as a letter to the editor, just to make sure I wasn't giving short shrift to his cause. He declined.
I have never understood such sentiment. Trying to boycott newspaper advertisers is akin to boycotting a bookstore or a library because it carries a certain author's work.
The newspaper can't please all readers all the time. What we can do is offer a variety of news and information that people enjoy, need or want. If you don't like Coulter -- and there are lots of you who don't -- I invite you to skip her column. Maureen Dowd, I promise, provides an alternative perspective on the same page.
I do not presume that everyone reads everything that is in the newspaper; rather, I presume that every person who picks up a newspaper expects to find at least one thing he or she is interested in. The Viewpoints page, as I have explained before, is meant to offer a diverse array of opinions, and we have worked hard to deliver a balanced lineup of columnists. Those columnists include some of the biggest names in the business, including Dowd, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Cal Thomas, Jonah Goldberg and yes, Coulter.
Last week, we added Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, replacing Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel and Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald. The reason for the changes? Parker switched syndicates and Hiaasen focuses too narrowly on Florida issues.
I get more comments -- both positive and negative -- about our Thursday columnists, Dowd and Coulter, than all other columnists combined. We carried Dowd long before we added Coulter, and while I can't remember anyone suggesting an advertising boycott over Dowd, I know we have lost some subscriptions because we carry her column.
Clearly, both Dowd and Coulter have legions of loyal readers and an abundance of critics. In my estimation, the feedback I have received on the columnists is an argument for keeping them on, rather than cutting them from, our editorial pages.
I did make the Coulter hater an offer -- send me a list of columnists you like to read and I will review their work for possible inclusion in the newspaper. The same goes for all readers. If there is someone that you think can deliver a different perspective, call or e-mail me.
From the Editor appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today. Send questions to Scott Stanford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at 871-4221.