With each day comes another accusation that The Detroit News’ opinion and editorial page is biased.
Reader Adam Gantz wrote, on Tuesday, in the comments under state Sen. Randy Richardville’s op-ed on Obama and redistribution:
I’d like to see more Op Eds in the News by liberal voices, and Democratic campaign chiefs. You are inundating your readers with nothing but the same opinions over and over again. We get it. You invite Republican officials to pretend Obama is a Marxist/Communist. It’s boring already!
And just today, Twitter use @gwhizkids Tweeted the following, to both @NolanFinleyDN and @detnewsopinion’s Twitter accounts:
Just unfollowed @DetNewsOpinion’s feed. Way too left-leaning. If they want to balance things out, I'll come back. (Emphasis mine.)
How could it be? If we took both complaints at face value, we are running an op-ed page that is both archconservative and hippie liberal. What gives?
Hearing too much of one complaint or the other would be a legitimate cause of concern. When people can predict your every position without much effort, the thrill is gone. Predictability is, as Gantz said, boring.
Which is why we work to be anything but. We print a Labor Voices column, every Wednesday, giving labor leaders the chance to speak out on whatever issues they deem important. We run Clarence Page as often as we do George Will or Charles Krauthammer. And incoming op-eds are chosen for the strength or provocative nature of the arguments, the stature of the writer, or both. Whether it fits our personal politics is of little concern. It's about the reader experience. (The editorial page will remain conservative, though.)
But it's that 'reader experience' thing that's tripping the conversation up. For all the apparent interest in balance, I find that people who complain that our page is too liberal or too conservative are really saying we don't run enough pieces that they agree with personally. Adam wants to read liberals saying liberal things. Gwhizkids wants to read conservatives saying conservative things. And if our role was to feed red meat to our audience, we would be failing.
But that's not our goal.
We cannot promise that the stories we run will confirm the politics and the biases and the worldview you already hold. We can promise that, whichever side of the aisle you sit on, we'll challenge all of those notions and try to get you to consider fresh evidence. We will seek out writers who ask questions like whether Detroit is becoming Michigan's next suburb and whether America's response to 9/11 didn't cost us more than a decade. If you want challenging reads and bold perspectives, don't touch that dial; if you want simple confirmation, there's no shortage of resources for that.
If our 'bias' can be said to be in favor of dynamic conversations, that's a label we can live with.