Last week, Idaho Business Review reported that the Idaho Statesman made deep cuts in its newsroom. BW's Deanna Darr wrote a short Citydesk post about IBR's report, and at boiseweekly.com a reader using the handle "Griffster" left the following comment: "Maybe if they try to report news that is more inline [sic] with the political view of their audience this might help with their circulation drop. Note to the new editor we are a conservative state!"
Dear Griffster: Let me set the record straight. The "new editor" is actually a new publisher, and that, Griffster, is a very big difference. It also indicates that your level of knowledge about the news business is limited. So, second, let me give you a quick Journalism 101 lesson: It's not the job of journalists to reflect the predominant political views of their readers. News is news, independent of ideological bias, and as someone whose job it is to push those boundaries, I can say that any perceived liberal bias in the Statesman's coverage is nothing more than defensiveness on a reader's part.
I know a few BW readers are likely surprised about the fact that I'm coming to the Statesman's defense here. I also know the prevailing assumption in town is that when the Statesman falters BW rejoices. When it comes to money, yes, you bet your ass our sales department considers the daily's sales department competition.
Newsroom to newsroom, however, I can tell you that the competition is hardly cutthroat. BW's editorial staffers have social and professional relationships with a number of people in the Statesman's newsroom. Several past and current Statesman reporters did time at BW before going daily--one of them, in fact, taught me the business. Though our newsrooms have distinctly different methods, our missions are not far off. And when their newsroom loses reporters, the entire community loses. We lose the accountability that good journalism provides. We lose the stories of the voiceless that good journalism gives voice to. We lose the starting points of robust social dialogue--dialogue that's vital to an intellectually healthy society. At BW, we certainly strive to do all of that, but we can't do it alone. Boise needs a strong daily paper with experienced reporters. I only have 400 words of space here, and this discussion deserves far more than the space allows. I'd invite you to continue the discussion with me at facebook.com/rachaeldaigle.