Sunday, November 16, 2008

McClatchy’s Raleigh N&O editor shrugs off readers’ criticisms

To nobody’s surprise John Drescher, executive editor of McClatchy’s “Anything for Obama” Raleigh News & Observer, denies his paper’s presidential campaign coverage was grossly biased in favor of Sen. Barack Obama.

In his Nov. 8 column (
“We’re left, right and wrong?” ), Drescher falls back on a familiar gambit editors use to “prove" their papers’ reporting is fair and balanced: publishing a mix of letters “from all sides” criticizing the paper’s coverage; after which the editor concludes with something like: “Here in the newsroom we get hit from all sides, so we must be doing things right.”

In Drescher’s case he lets the last reader letter in his column make the case for him:

I hope you are all laughing all the way to The Raleigh Times Bar at the fact that both right-wingers and left-wingers are complaining about how biased your paper is. It's comical to me. I think you do a fine job in the fairness department.
-- Steven Dennis, Raleigh
As proof of a newspaper’s fairness or accuracy, the “we get it from all sides” argument is worthless.

If a large circulation newspaper such as the N&O publishes a detailed, sensitive major story on the horrors of the Holocaust, the paper will get comments from people praising the story and from people saying the N&O made too much of the Holocaust. Some readers may cite reliable sources to dispute significant details in the story, while other readers argue the lie that the Holocaust is a fiction.

Each of such comments deserves to be looked at on its individual merits.

If you were the executive editor at the N&O and received considerable reader comment variation as to the accuracy and fairness of the Holocaust story, would you shrug off those comments with a self-justifying “we’re getting it from all sides, so we must have done things right?”

Drescher’s column is nothing more than a shrug-off of readers’ complaints.

Moving on - - -

Far be it from me to begrudge the N&O editors and staff some relaxing hours at The Raleigh Times Bar.

And if editor Drescher and his news team want to congratulate themselves on “a fine job” of campaign coverage, that’s their right.

I’ll close with three brief items:

1) - - Later today I’ll post on the latest N&O circulation numbers. They’re way down.

2) - - McClatchy’s stock is now selling at about $1.50 a share.

3) - - What’s the price of a beer at The Raleigh Times Bar?


Anonymous said...

Still, the N&O has not been held accountable for its incendiary coverage in late March 2006 of what became known as Nifong's frame of the innocent lacrosse players. Nor has the newspaper acknowledged or apologized for its coverage.

Anonymous said...

Never Will!