Brent Boyer

Brent Boyer

Brent Boyer: Irony and Rob Douglas

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Brent Boyer

Contact Editor Brent Boyer at 871-4221 or e-mail bboyer@SteamboatToday.com.

I sometimes joke with Rob Douglas that his columns aren't worth the complaints I receive about them. But the truth is, I was thrilled when he recently agreed to sign on for a second year of penning Friday opinion pieces for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Whether or not you agree with the positions he takes, Douglas' columns spark discussion and debate about important local issues. There's tremendous value to that, particularly for a community as passionate about those issues as ours is.

Before Douglas became a weekly fixture on page 2 of the Friday Steamboat Today, I felt the newspaper lacked a local opinion writer who wasn't afraid to tackle the big issues. From calling for Sheriff Gary Wall's resignation, to taking the Pilot & Today's Editorial Board to task, to criticizing the decisions of city government, Douglas certainly has accomplished that.

The fact that I get as many compliments about Douglas as I do complaints tells me a voice like his is important - those who agree with a particular position he takes feel as if their opinion is being represented and shared with the community; those who disagree have reason and motivation to speak up in opposition.

I've been told by more than one reader that Douglas' column should appear in our ViewPoints pages alongside other op-ed pieces. I disagree. Most readers recognize opinion when they see it, and everything about the page 2 placement of Douglas' "The View From Here" column screams opinion, from the title of his work to the design characteristics we use to distinguish it from our regular news articles.

Some readers also complain that Douglas' column and his conservative positions on some issues reveal the newspaper's "right-wing bias." Of course, they don't know that although I'm registered as an independent, my voting record would define me as a Democrat. I'd like to think my support of Douglas' column instead reveals our commitment to providing a range of viewpoints to readers, whether from nationally syndicated columnists such as Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter or from local writers such as Douglas or representatives of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley and the Routt County Democratic Party.

To be clear, none of our local columnists - be it Douglas, Joanne Palmer or longtime Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross - are told what they should write about. Their column topics are entirely of their own choosing, as are the stances they take. There's been more than one occasion when I've loudly disagreed with Douglas about his take on an issue. But that's never stopped me from giving the piece a green light for publication, even knowing I'll have to defend his work to readers whose differences with Douglas I often share. And I still get a kick out of that irony.

Please feel free to share your questions, comments, criticisms or compliments. E-mail me at bboyer@steamboatpilot.com or call 970-871-4221.

Comments

Fred Duckels 5 years ago

We have a situation in the community where some have worked long, to mold and control thinking and planning in their own ideology. Woe be it to anyone that challenges the status quo. The assault on Rob and the Pilot for suggesting that another viewpoint be tolerated, is uncivilized. Only a barbarian would question the Iron Horse purchase by well meaning folk. Only a barbarian would challenge council to stop the severance package parade. I certainly did'nt see the detractors in this column address this folly, nor would we see a liberal columnist do anything but muddy the water under the same circumstances.

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ybul 5 years ago

Here's a good one...

If Con is the opposite of Pro,

then Congress must be the opposite of Progress.

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seeuski 5 years ago

Oh yea, Air America failed because of the 24/7 one sided ideology. Boring!!!

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Tim Scannell 5 years ago

Steve - Balance according to whom? Should we elect or appoint a committee to determine what an acceptable opinion is? Each side gets 250 words? Maybe you can run for President of the committee and we will all be better for it.

I am always amazed when people are willing to give up their rights. Are you willing to give up your freedom of expression in return for a faceless "balance" committee? Your balance is to not read or support the paper if you don't like it. There are plenty of other places you can go for information.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

Committee? That does sound dumb.

Its as simple as I said. The Pilot needs to provide a progressive column. They have conservative beside progressive on the OpEd page. Their commentaries have the same conservative and progressive space balance.

I appreciate Rob's tone lately. But Rob has the only politcal column, and as Fred agrees, it is a conservative column.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

A column of conservative viewpoints should be matched with a column of progressive viewpoints.

Awards? Meaningless when a paper cannot deliver balance.

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Scott Ford 5 years ago

I am glad to hear that Rob will be writing his column for another year. I enjoy his columns although often I do not agree with him. That is OK. May we never all think exactly alike!

Rob enjoys a good spirited debate. Having had the good fortune of getting to know him this winter, over early morning coffee at the "no fact zone" table located in the Steaming Bean; Rob can often get spun-up over an issue. He has his opinions and is passionate about them.

Rob will not play it safe if he thinks something needs to be said. His quick wit and sharp rhetoric can be a challenge to wade through. In addition, Rob does not suffer fools lightly.

As we read Rob's column over the coming year I can guarantee he will touch on topics that will strike sensitive nerves within the community. If one disagrees with Rob that is OK, tell him straight-up why. Rob does not make it personal and neither should anyone responding to him.

This town is full of characters and Rob is one of them. I am glad he is here even if I fully agree with him only on few occasion.

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housepoor 5 years ago

Is the parent company of the Pilot affiliated with Murdoch and newscorp?

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sickofitall 5 years ago

Boy times must really be tough! First, The Rocky Mountain News, Now The Steamboat Pilot, dear oh dear..

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ybul 5 years ago

Oh my, maybe the world is not black and white. Maybe Rob is a moderate and you agree with him sometimes and not others. I do not believe that there are any two people who agree on everything.

Maybe the issues that you disagree with him on, his commentary brings out some side of the discussion you did not see. Maybe, given the Steamboat Springs has a liberal voting record it is better to have an opposing viewpoint in the paper to allow others to see an issue from a side they may not have seen it from.

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seeuski 5 years ago

Freedom of speech is under attack and some here want the fairness doctrine imposed. No so called right wing commentary. Hugo Chavesque. The change we need?NOT. Don't forget there are others in this community who have differing opinions and don't mind a fair debate so whats the problem? Why the need for mind control?

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Fred Duckels 5 years ago

I would never go behind Rob's back to have him silenced. I think that those who would go behind Rob's back want to keep their intentions of controlling the community from becoming public. Good ol boys are frowned upon in polite society. The columns that provoked resistance were obvious situations that deserved attention, I think that politics play very little part in Rob's viewpoint. Pointing out incompetence is not rocket science and Rob is filling a need.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

If in the past year a progressive column existed to balance Rob's, I would have made no complaint to the Pilot. It's as simple as that.

Short of that, any recourse, such as rebuttal letters to the paper, will reach fewer readers, are not guaranteed publication, and have fewer words allowed. To be timely that letter has to be submitted the same day Rob is published. (It's a joke even before we consider only one side gets paid $.) Certainly blog rebuttals are useless compared to page 2 of Friday's newsstand publication.

The marching orders of a columnist are to be one sided and provocative. Rob has recently expanded some of his writing to acknowledge interests of both sides, such as his big box piece. This is new and helpful. But judgments on "the right" balance, like I just made, are inherently inadequate and won't work. We all agree there. The only fair solution is that other columnist.

Scott: "Rob enjoys a good spirited debate." Seeuski: "there are others in this community who have differing opinions and don't mind a fair debate."

Absolutely! Because a debate is a discussion "between two matched sides." (Webster's)

At the least, the Pilot could put Rob's column on the OpEd page "against" progressive opinions like Herbert, Krugman, Rich, etc.

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ybul 5 years ago

What are the progressive issues that are being missed, that another opinion should talk about?

health care - in reality it is sick care in the US as we simply treat symptoms of a problem. As that is more profitable.

The environment - I do not think you disagree with rob too much on this issue.

Identity theft was one piece - I suppose the opposing opinion should have been that those who had fraud perpetrated against them had too much and should have the same as all.

Affordable housing - I do not think that his piece was too far right on the issue. As probably being further right than Rob, I think that he did not cover the real issue effecting affordable housing and what afflicts this country, loose credit (money being created from nothing) that fuels bubbles in the stock market, housing, etc..

Anyway, I do not seem to see such a large issue that needs to be harped on.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

ybul, In my opinion this thread is not about Rob. Its about the Pilot. I have been asking the Brent for a progressive column to offset Rob for about three months. You see no need? I do. Others have made the same complaint of imbalance to me, and I believe they said as much to Brent. He acknowledges many complaints above doesn't he?

Maybe they prefer juicier bait for blogging on their website, or more emphatic letters. One month ago I called and asked the city editor to remove the "Rob Douglas is selling out our town" thread from the que of "Active Discussions". His response was that such decisions were made in another state where they run this blog. But he promised to pass my request on. But here it is one month later and that thread title still sits there. Its last post was Feb 20.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

Fred, My complaint to the Pilot Editorial Board is hardly news to Rob, given a blog thread you are familiar with: http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

But yes, I am extremely frustrated the Pilot pays Rob to advise this community that suspending our housing ordinances would be a fair compromise. Suspend equals killed. Witness the "suspended" Linkage ordinance is now completely struck from our codes.

Rob's column did not scratch the surface of the housing question but rejected the only existing solution to it. Workforce needs? What workforce needs?

My frustration was larger because I have invested 100's of hours over years engaged in the shape and changes to ordinances meant to house workers. Ordinances specifically called for in our area plan. You have called mine an effort "to mold and control thinking and planning in (my) own ideology". Hardly. The vast majority of that time was spent by myself (and by many others) on working committees, listening to developers, attending forums, planning commission, attending CC hearings, visiting city staff and absorbing advice from an array of city consultants (part of base area plan updates).

And here the Pilot was underwriting an argument to toss out that work.

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Steve Lewis 5 years ago

Ybul, I can name maybe 4 other people, of probably 50 I've heard publicly speaking to the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, who have stated we should toss it out: Jon Quinn and Jeremy MacGray. They gave their reasons. And one other at the CC podium whose name I did not know (he reasoned we were unfairly tagging "the last guy over the pass"). I don't exactly recall Michael Hurley's comments. But given the range of the discussion I've heard, its my opinion Rob's advice was, and remains, very far "to the right".

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freerider 5 years ago

Brent you could save some money by just printing some Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter dribble....same crap different package

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