By Steve Outing
My latest Editor & Publisher Online column, published this week, was a bit out of the ordinary for me. Instead of sticking to online media trends and news as I usually do, I did an opinion piece about climate change and how the newspaper industry fails to use its power to influence positive behavior because of a tendency of editors and publishers to refrain from declaring that the “debate” over global warming is essentially over (by taking too seriously the increasingly irrelevant skeptics). Newspapers could, for the public good, I suggested, consider taking an advocacy approach and encouraging behavior change by people.
I guessed I’d piss off some people with that, and indeed it appears I have. A quick blog search on my name reveals that I’m getting called a bunch of nasty names. (“What rock did this guy crawl out from under…,” etc.)
My column hasn’t generated vitriol like this in a while. I guess I’ve been too bland of late, till now. Oh, well, if it gets some people thinking about the issue of global warming and the press’ role, then that’s great — and I’ll take my lumps from the blogosphere.
One thing about the arrows coming my way, though, bugs me. Editor & Publisher is often brought up, as though E&P (the premier trade publication of the newspaper industry) endorses what I wrote. Hey, this was my opinion, not theirs. E&P was nice enough to not reject my column rant, but the words of a freelance columnist have no bearing on the policy of the magazine. It’s like the letters to the editor you see constantly complaining about some right- or left-wing column that was printed in a newspaper — “How could you publish that trash?! Cancel my subscription!” — when the paper routinely publishes various points of view.