“Why did you run that horribly offensive ad? Why did you print that idiotic column? Why didn’t you publish my world-class submission?”
We hear you and we understand your confusion and frustration. Allow us to explain ourselves:
First and foremost, we should probably talk about the First Amendment. Without it, we would be living in a pathetic excuse for a democracy. We fully believe that all people should have the right to say whatever they please, no matter whom it offends. It’s tragic that wildly ignorant bigots and sexists exist, but even they are entitled to spread their beliefs.
Now, let’s move on to the David Horowitz ad on page three of today’s newspaper. Despite what we might think of the village idiot, the bottom line is that everybody has their place in print if they pay for it. In addition to being a wealth of information and a powerful part of the democratic process, we are also a business. If people give us money for an advertisement, we’re obligated to run that ad — no matter what our opinion on the matter is.
“So, if I pay for an ad, I can say anything in that space?”
Pretty much, with the exception of hate speech. Other than that, we have almost zero say over advertising content that goes into the paper, even though it’s sitting right there next to our articles. There is a sturdy, unbreakable wall between the advertising office and the editorial office. (Well, in our case it’s a breezeway, but you get the point.) We are usually just as surprised as you are to see the ads that appear in the paper each day.
“What about columns? You see those. You must understand how moronic and blatantly offensive they are. Yet you still print them.”
Well, yes. The Opinion section is completely separate from news and entirely composed of opinions, appropriately enough. The views presented in the columns are entirely those of the author alone. Not only does the Daily Nexus staff not agree with every column printed, but there are staff members who absolutely despise some of the columns and letters that appear. But that doesn’t matter, either. We try to print a diverse range of opinions on as many subjects as possible.
As long as you play by our rules — by keeping your column under 700 words and your letter to the editor or response to 300 words — we promise to consider your submission for print. Unfortunately, we’re too big for our britches and don’t have enough space to print everything that is turned in to us. We give priority to columns that are timely and newsworthy, particularly well written or fascinating or are unique in some way.
The Opinion section is entirely separate from every other section at the Daily Nexus, and what is printed in the Opinion pages has no effect on the journalistic integrity of the rest of the paper. In fact, columns are usually written by people who aren’t even on staff; they’re just people who cared about something enough to write a column or a letter about it.
Speaking of writing in, why don’t you try it for yourself? Exercise your First Amendment muscle. We invite anyone in the Santa Barbara area to write in about anything — literally, as you saw with Max Bottaro’s column. We won’t judge you. We’ll leave that up to our readers. Send your submissions to email@example.com. But be sure you’re saying what you really mean, because once we print it, it’s online in our archives forever.