Scott Stanford is general manager of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Call him at 970-871-4202 or email sstanford@SteamboatToday.com
A week ago, I invited readers to provide feedback on whether the newspaper should keep or drop Ann Coulter.
Quick review - Coulter made a derogatory remark suggesting Sen. John Edwards is homosexual at a Conservative Political Action Committee conference last week. Coulter said it was a joke. I know funny - what Coulter said wasn't funny. It was offensive.
We're not the only newspaper to seek feedback on the matter. The Elko (Nev.) Daily Free Press also sought reader input, as did the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal Register. Elko decided last week to keep publishing Coulter. On Wednesday, the State Journal Register also decided to keep Coulter, even though the newspaper's online poll wasn't going Coulter's way.
Last I checked, our online poll was going Coulter's way - 57 percent think we should keep publishing her; 43 percent think she needs to be removed from our editorial pages.
Media Matters (www.mediamatters.org) is a nonprofit organization that claims to be dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. In truth, it's a partisan group that advocates for liberal causes. I cite it because Media Matters got active in the Coulter affair. The agency posted a distribution list of newspapers that carry Coulter and prompted readers to e-mail those newspapers' publishers and editors, urging them to cancel Coulter.
We did not make Media Matters' list, and that's OK by me because we got enough feedback without it.
Media Matters reported the following newspapers have dropped Coulter: the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif.; the Lancaster (Pa.) New Era; the Oakland (Mich.) Press; the Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tenn.; the Sanford (N.C.) Herald; the DeKalb (Ill.) Daily Chronicle; the Shreveport (La.) Times; the Lake Charles (La.) American Press; and the Decatur (Ill) Herald and Review. Some 90 or more continue to carry her column.
Readers posted more than 80 comments on the online version of my column last week. That's among the most we have received on any story since going to our new Web format last August. Only a story about the two Rainbow Gathering participants accused of stealing produce from a local store and a story about Sheriff Gary Wall have received more.
I am offended by terms that stereotype people based on race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. There are a lot of ways Coulter could have made her point about Edwards without using the word she chose.
This is not a freedom of speech or First Amendment issue. The newspaper pays for about a dozen columnists that get printed in our newspaper. Does that mean we are violating the free speech rights of the hundreds of columnists we don't buy? Does that mean because we only use about one in three of the columns that Paul Greenberg and Paul Krugman write that we are violating their rights to free speech? Of course not.
Ann Coulter said something stupid and offensive, and for that, the Steamboat Pilot & Today and many other newspapers had to reconsider whether they would continue to carry her column. Count us among those that will.
On the Web
I wanted to note a couple of new features on our Web site, Steamboatpilot.com.
First, we have added links to the latest national, world, sports and business news from the Associated Press. The links are in the left-hand rail under the heading "From the Wire." This includes video and audio of breaking national news. You can now get to national and international news without leaving the Steamboatpilot.com site.
Second, I have started a "From the Editor" blog, in which I hope to answer reader questions and post news about the newspaper and journalism in general. You can read it here.
Scott Stanford's From the Editor column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today. Cal him at 871-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org