I received an e-mail this week from a local reader who didn't mince her words when suggesting the "left and far left" media did their best to put President-elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
I agree that the mainstream media exhibited an Obama bias throughout the campaign, but I took some exception to her assertion that the Steamboat Pilot & Today's ViewPoints pages lack balance - i.e., conservative columnists.
Regardless of an editor's personal political views, newspapers should publish opinion pieces penned by writers representing a range of ideologies. For each issue of the Pilot & Today, we try to select an op-ed piece from a liberal-leaning writer and one from a more conservative author. In today's paper, for example, we published the work of syndicated columnists Thomas Friedman (a moderate liberal) and David Brooks (a moderate conservative).
We subscribe to syndicated columnists from The New York Times News Service and Tribune Media Services. The "liberal" columnists in our lineup include Friedman, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, Clarence Page and Maureen Dowd. Our "conservative" columnists are Brooks, William Kristol, Cal Thomas, Jonah Goldberg and Ann Coulter.
On any given day, a glance at pages 8 and 9 of the Steamboat Today should show something from column A and something from column B. It doesn't always work out that way, but I believe a review of our ViewPoints pages during the past year would demonstrate a dedicated effort to provide balance and varying viewpoints for our readers.
We've attempted to provide the same range of opinions from local contributors. For more than a year, a small group of local conservatives led by Rick Akin have submitted Sunday op-ed pieces that we generally label as "Conservative commentary." It took awhile, but area Democrats have stepped up their effort of late and have begun to provide consistent Sunday columns to balance their neighbors on the right.
Of course, our left-leaning readers often point to the presence of Mallard Fillmore - the editorial cartoon with its evil duck - at the bottom of our ViewPoints pages as evidence of the newspaper's conservative bias. I won't - or can't - pretend that we provide the same type of balance when it comes to editorial cartoons, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't. Doonesbury is an obvious choice, but I'd like to hear from readers who have other suggestions for an editorial cartoon to provide some balance to the duck.
As always, I'm open to your comments and criticism. I can be reached at 970-871-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.