The Tribune’s roster of nationally syndicated columnists (2)


Here’s the second of my notes to the Tribune’s managing editor, Chris Morris. We’re continuing to seek clues as the newspaper’s method of operations.


With considerable difficulty, owing to the various portions of the United Media Services web site that were down or throwing back “error” messages, I finally was able to track down a list of columnists that are offered.

Here’s the site:

As you said (not that I doubted you), they’re primarily swinging from the right side.

And, naturally, I bat left-handed.

At least three columnists openly identify themselves with Conservatism and unabashedly pimped for George W. Bush during the recently concluded presidential campaign: William Rusher, Diana West and Joseph Perkins.

Morton Kondracke leans that way, but can be even-handed on occasion.

Nat Hentoff probably is the most provocative of the bunch, but confines himself to matters of First Amendment rights and civil liberties.

Roberts and Roberts probably are viewed by some as liberals, but in fact both are reporters who generally stick to straight reporting.

Joan Ryan fits better in the reportorial Roberts/Roberts category than anywhere. So do the Dan Rather pieces I’ve read so far.

That leaves Gene Lyons. We should be reading more of him, as he’s the only one even close to left of center.

Perhaps these things bother me too much, but throughout the autumn campaign, two or three times a week, the three unapologetically conservative columnists listed above didn’t just bang the drum for the incumbent – they beat it to shreds with a baseball bat.

There was almost no liberal counterpoint in the pages of the Tribune. I concede that it always has been the right of a newspaper to take a stand in editorial terms and define itself one way or another; the Courier-Journal is left leaning, but high-powered conservative columnists appear there on a daily basis. There is at least some effort at counterpoint.

You may not have made a conscious decision to state the Tribune’s preferences, but this was the de facto result of allowing your syndicated slate of conservative political commentators to do all the talking while the local staff seldom ventured an opinion on the race save for properly urging people to vote.

If that’s what you want, that’s okay, just count me as one who opposes it and we can move on to other things.

But make no mistake, I do oppose it. Of course, I have a long history spent offering opinions to various management figures at the Tribune, with widely varying results.

The thing is, I get passionate about it. For whatever reason, I grew up with a deep and abiding interest in what even the tiniest hometown daily might strive to be – not just a repository for syndicated blather and wire service reports, but a community force, a watchdog, the basic unit in the nation’s free press.

Furthermore, I want this town to be something unique, not just a place with a McDonald’s and a Wal-Mart and an Applebee’s like every other like-sized community in America, but a place with an identity all its own. That’s why I dreamed of having a brewery that would make beer available nowhere else, which runs counter to the supposed American “ideal” of inventing a better mousetrap and selling millions to people all across the country.

People ask me every day, “why not brew in Louisville?” My answer? “Because New Albany is where I live.”

It’s where I’ve chosen to stay. And I’m a selfish bastard, because I want Chris Morris’s newspaper to be just as special, just as unique, just as singular as all the other aspects of life’s rich pageant for which I campaign on a daily basis.

Can’t someone ask, is it really good to have a Wal-Mart, a McDonald’s, an Applebee’s here? Can’t we decide to define ourselves differently from the norm? Must there be the same sprawl, the same plastic, the same soulless repetition? Who better to ask the question than the local newspaper?

Hey, a guy can dream. Appreciate your time, as always (and really, I haven’t had a drop of beer tonight – just hot tea).


No response from Chris yet, but check back later.